Gimlet Media's Every Little Thing podcast is based on a pretty simple concept: you call a hotline and leave a message with a question that's been bugging you. If it's intriguing enough, they make a podcast about the answer.
When a guy named Kyle left a meandering voicemail about the nature of spacetime as it relates to black holes, the show's hosts couldn't resist. His giggley, midwest-by-way-of-California-surfer-dude tone seemed like the perfect stoned-at-3-am-philosophical-question fit for their episode scheduled for April 20. Host Flora Lichtman came prepared with all the clever stoner puns she could muster in her repertoire as they got down and dirty about getting high in outer space.
Except it turns out that Kyle is not a raging weed aficionado, because Kyle is a Pastor who is already delightfully high on Jesus.
Kyle actually reminds me of two friends of mine who are also pastors. While the descriptions of and information about black holes are informative and interesting, it's Kyle's earnestness and awkwardness that really carries it through, even as Lichtman bulldozes over him with bong joke after bong joke. Clifford Johnson, professor of physics at the University of Southern California who also advised on some of the Avengers movies, is also a guest on the episode (much to Kyle's excitement).
I listened to the 22-minute episode while I made breakfast and honestly, it was a wonderful way to start the day.
Black Holes: Free Your Mind [Every Little Thing / Gimlet Media]
Image: Assnogholeo / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) Read the rest
Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, explains the concept of a "dimensions" at five different levels of complexity. Dr. Carroll sure has a big brane. Read the rest
Gravitational waves are real, and scientists have detected them. In the video above, PBS Space Time explains the discovery by researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). From the New York Times:
A team of physicists who can now count themselves as astronomers announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prophecy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago (Listen to it here.). And it is a ringing (pun intended) confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.
More generally, it means that scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.
Below, NASA's animated simulation of the black holes merging and releasing the gravitational radiation (background here):
above image credits: R. Hurt/Caltech-JPL Read the rest