In The Field

ESOF: The universe in an hour

Gerry Gilmore, an astrophysicst at Cambridge University, gave a lunchttime talk in the aviation hall of the Deutsches Museum today. He seemed unfazed by the breadth of his topic: the entire history and future of the universe. Then again, his job title suggests he´d be up for the challenge: He´s a professor of “experimental philosophy”:

For 50 minutes, Gilmore did his best to bring cosmology down to earth. Among the tidbits of his talk:

– “The top pop song in 1931 was about general relativity,” he says. Check out the lyrics from “As Time Goes By,” made famous in the movie Casablanca — without the key references to Einstein in the early verses:

– Isaac Newton predicted that the sun´s gravity could bend light, long before Einstein said the same thing.

– If you squashed the Milky Way galaxy down to be as flat as a sheet of paper, it would, remarkably, have the same density of that sheet of paper (around 80 grams per square metre). It would just be a really, really, really big shset of paper.

And the learning goes on…


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