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”: http://www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~gil/.
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: http://www.reelclassics.com/Movies/Casablanca/astimegoesby-lyrics.htm.
– 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…