The Western Lines

August 24, 2010

Travelling Through Time

Time travel has been the staple of science fiction novels, television programs and major motion ever since H.G. Wells first penned his classic prototypical scientific romance “The Time Machine” in 1895.

However, when time travel appears in Sci-Fi there is usually very little description of how the time machine actually works or the science underlying the principles of its operation. In reality there is a scientific basis to the notion of voyaging through time and it is firmly rooted in the physics of both special and general relativity as revealed by Albert Einstein in the miracle year of 1905 and during the war torn year of 1915.

In pervious postings in Discovery Enterprise we have presented the work of American physicist Ron Mallet and others who have been inspired by Einstein’s work to look at the possibility of time travel as a serious proposition.

Einstein revealed to us that the space-time continuum, in which our universe is embedded, is malleable and that both space and time may be interchangeable physical structures.

In today’s instalment of the acclaimed documentary series “Sci Fi Science” host Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist by profession and Sci Fi fan at heart, looks at the possibility of taking the seemingly impossible physics of time travel out of the realm of science fiction and into dominion of scientific and technological reality.

Sci Fi Science How to Travel Through Time

August 23, 2010

The Universe – Time Travel

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the fourth episode of the fifth season of the highly acclaimed documentary series “The Universe” currently airing on the History Channel.

The latest instalment of the series looks at the possibility of time travel and how it could one day become a reality.

Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity both allow for the possibility of travelling through time. Travelling into the far distant future is a definite certainty within special relativity. All you need to do is travel very fast at speeds that are a significant fraction of light speed and time slows down for you. This relativistic effect is known as time dilation.

This effect is a well established fact and has already been proven experimentally here on Earth and in space.

One only has to look at the behaviour of a short lived subatomic particle known the muon. A muon only has a lifetime measured in microseconds (μs).

If one comparers the lifetimes of two muons at different speeds we see some very surprising results. In the laboratory, slow muons are produced, and in the atmosphere very fast moving muons are made when cosmic rays bombard atoms in the tenuous upper atmosphere that exists on the very fridges of outer space above the Earth’s surface.

A muon’s lifetime at rest in the laboratory is 2.22 μs, the lifetime of a cosmic ray produced muon travelling at ninety-eight percent of the speed of light is about five times longer, in perfect agreement with calculations made using the theory of special relativity.

In this experiment the “clock” is the time taken by processes leading to muon decay, and these processes take place in the moving muon at its own “clock rate”, which is much slower than the laboratory clock.

Time dilation would make it possible for passengers in a fast moving space vehicle to travel further into the future while aging very little; since their great speed slows down the rate of passage of on-board their spaceship.

Thus the very first astronauts who venture forth to the stars will also be the first bona fide time travellers.

Yet, even more bizarre would be the mind-boggling paradoxes that would arise if travelling to the past ever became possible.

The Universe Time Travel

August 13, 2010

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – Travels in Space and Time

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the eighth episode of Carl Sagan’s highly acclaimed PBS documentary series – Cosmos: Travels in Space and Time.

In this instalment of Cosmos we follow Dr. Sagan on an odyssey through time and space and witness how star patterns change over millions of years followed by a journey to the planets of other stars, and a look at the possibility of time travel.

This takes us to Italy, where a young Albert Einstein first wondered what it would be like to ride on a beam of light.

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos – Travels in Space and Time

July 31, 2010

Albert Einstein – How I See the World

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present a documentary from the highly acclaimed PBS series American Masters concerning the twentieth century’s greatest theoretical physicists – Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein is considered one of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time. His theories on the nature of time and space profoundly affected the human conception of the physical world and set the foundations for many of the scientific advances of the twentieth century. As a thinker on the human condition, politics, and all issues of the day, he was as well-respected as anyone in his time.

Born in Ulm, Germany in 1879, Einstein was brought up in Munich. His parents were of Jewish German ancestry, and his father ran an electrical equipment plant. He did not speak fluently until after he was nine and was considered slow. Though his grades were fair in high school, he was eventually expelled for his rebellious nature. Always an individual, he traveled around before re-enrolling and completing school in his new home in Zurich, Switzerland.

After graduating from high school, Einstein enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he studied the works of classical physicists. By 1900 he graduated with a teaching degree and three years later married his college sweetheart, Mileva Maric. Unable to find a teaching job he tutored high school students until beginning work at the Swiss Patent Office. His job at the patent office allowed much time for independent work and it was during these seven years that he made his most important discoveries.

By 1905 Einstein had brought together much of the works of contemporary physicists with his own thoughts on a number of topics including the nature of light, the existence of molecules, and a theory concerning time, mass, and physical absolutes. The “Theory of Relativity” proposed a revolutionary conception of the physical world, suggesting that time, mass, and length were not fixed absolutes, but dependent on the motion of the observer. Two years later he presented his equation E=MC2 (Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared). With this early work Einstein unhinged the assumptions of the absolute within the physical world and set the course for the scientific investigations of the century.

Though the Theory of Relativity was to be his most famous, his other work that year was equally important. With his publication of the article, “On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid Demanded by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat,” he abandoned Newton’s theory that light was made of particles, in exchange for one that presented light as being made of particles and waves. It was for this work with light that he was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize (1929) for physics.

Not immediately recognized for the important thinker he was, Einstein moved through a number of teaching jobs before being offered a research position at the University of Berlin in 1914. Soon after his move to Berlin, Einstein was divorced by his wife and married his cousin Elsa. During the 1920s Einstein’s fame grew and he spent much of this time traveling throughout the world with Chaim Weizmann, the future president of Israel, promoting the cause of Zionism. By the early 1930s the growing threat of Nazi fascism had made it impossible for Einstein to continue working in Germany, and he moved to Princeton, New Jersey. There, while teaching at Princeton University, he continued to elucidate his theory of relativity and work on new theories that brought together our understanding of other physical phenomenon.

It was from Princeton, in 1939, that Einstein signed a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt discussing the possibilities of creating an atomic bomb. Though Einstein was never directly involved in the creation of the bomb, it was his earlier theories that had paved the way for its possibility. After its eventual use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Einstein became a constant and vocal activist for peace—spending much of the rest of his life speaking and writing on the subject. By the time of his death in 1955, Einstein was considered by many not only the most important scientist of his time, but the smartest man alive. It is impossible to understand how different the events of the last hundred years might have been without the work of Albert Einstein.
Copyright PBS

American Masters: Albert Einstein – How I See the World

June 19, 2010

Through The Wormhole –The Riddle of Black Holes

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present the second episode of a new documentary series that premiered on the Science Channel in the United States on Wednesday June 9th entitled “Through the Wormhole” and hosted by veteran actor Morgan Freeman.

In the second episode of this exciting new series we explore the most elusive object ever conceived by modern physics and try to unravel the riddle presented by black holes.

They are the most powerful objects in the universe. Nothing, not even light, can escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. Astronomers now believe there are billions of them out in the cosmos, swallowing up planets, even entire stars in violent feeding frenzies. New theoretical research into the twisted reality of black holes suggests that three-dimensional space could be an illusion. That reality actually takes place on a two-dimensional hologram at the edge of the universe.

Through The Wormhole –The Riddle of Black Holes

May 11, 2010

The True Story of the Philadelphia Experiment

One of our newest readers inspired me to post today’s video feature on Discovery Enterprise following her interest in last Sunday’s blog post concerning the History Channel’s documentary on Einstein. One comment of her’s really intrigued me concerning Einstein’s alleged involvement in the infamous Philadelphia Experiment.

The Philadelphia Experiment is the conspiracy theory regarding a naval military experiment conducted at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, conducted sometime around October 28, 1943, in which the U.S. Navy destroyer escort the USS Eldridge was to be rendered invisible or cloaked to human observers for a brief period of time. The Philadelphia Experiment is also referred to sometimes as Project Rainbow. Apparently something went amiss and ship and crew were allegedly teleported to another dimension with adverse effects to all those involved.

The rumors surrounding the fate of the USS Eldridge and her crew have persisted for nearly seventy years and has been the subjected of two major motion pictures. But, what is the true story behind the Philadelphia Experiment. Were Albert Einstein and some of the great scientific minds of wartime America engaged in the development of a new secret weapon? Did the Philadelphia Experiment unwittingly have unforeseen consequences that transported the crew of the USS Eldridge on an odyssey into the unknown and bizarre realm of trans-dimensional physics?

Find out more in today’s exclusive video feature – The True Story of the Philadelphia Experiment.

The True Story of the Philadelphia Experiment

May 9, 2010

The History Channel’s – Einstein

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present a recent documentary that appeared on the History Channel concerning Albert Einstein.

It presents the extraordinary and remarkable story of Albert Einstein and his decades long battle to prove his Theory of General Relativity amid the violence of the First World War and the tumultuous events of his personal life.

In 1907, Einstein challenged two centuries of scientific belief and Sir Isaac Newton with a mind-boggling theory: Gravity is not pulling you down. Instead, massive bodies like the Sun and the Earth are bending space and time around you, pushing you down. He then had to prove his theory to unconvinced scientists. He figured that light from a distant star, as it passes right next to the sun and the sun’s gravitational field, will be bent. And the only way to see that would be to photograph a total solar eclipse.

Negative of the 1919 solar eclipse taken from the report of Sir Arthur Eddington on the expedition to verify Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light around the sun.

Fiercely competitive astronomers, foremost amongst them Arthur Stanley Eddington, raced each other to various exotic locations around the world to confirm or disprove Einstein’s prediction. Hardships, weather, and war foiled their expeditions until in 1919, first by Eddington and his team at Príncipe and later in 1922, with further confirmation at the Lick Observatory in California, the photographic proof was clearly, and without a doubt, captured. It launched Albert Einstein as a global icon celebrated around the world for his genius–and his humanity.

Author’s note: for those of you interested in the story of the remarkable war time collaboration of Arthur Stanley Eddington and Albert Einstein to prove the theory of General Relativity are invited to view “Einstein and Eddington: The Story of General Relativity” posted on Discovery Enterprise on Tuesday, November 24, 2009.

History Channel – Einstein (2010)

April 14, 2010

Einstein and the Annus Mirabilis of 1905

“I am sending you some papers which may be of interest,” wrote a young patent clerk named Albert Einstein to a friend in 1905.

The year 1905 will always be remembered as the “Annus Mirabilis” in the annuals of Physics and the year where a series of events would catapult a young Swiss patent clerk named Albert Einstein onto the world stage as the twentieth century’s greatest physicist fourteen years later.

In that year Einstein published four papers that were to substantially alter our views regarding the fundamental nature of space, time, and matter and lay the foundation of modern physics.

The first “Annus Mirabilis” in physics is linked to the year 1666 with Isaac Newton’s discoveries in calculus, motion, optics and gravitation culminating with the publication of Newton’s tour de force – the Principia, published on July 5th, 1687. Here Newton outlined his theory of Universal Gravitation.

Today on Discovery Enterprise we travel back to “Einstein’s Miracle Year” of 1905 and follow the events that would transform a young Albert Einstein from an obscure patent clerk into an icon – as scientific genius, pacifist and writer. This CBC Radio report explores Einstein’s life, loves and prolific career before he immigrated to the United States.

Einstein’s Miracle Year

March 28, 2010

Einstein’s Cosmic Messengers

Filed under: Albert Einstein,Alex Michael Bonnici,Astronomy,General Relativity,Gravity — ralphbuttigieg @ 7:05 am

Today on Discovery Enterprise we go in search of those enigmatic ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events in the distant universe known as gravitational waves. Albert Einstein predicted their existence in 1916.

It has been only possible in the last twenty years, now that we possess the technology, to detect them and thus gain a unique insight into the dark side of the Universe. This technology is expressed most exquisitely in LIGO, a facility supported by more than 500 researchers in the world scientific community, and a vital member in a developing global network of gravitational-wave observatories. LIGO’s measurements illuminate the fundamental nature of gravity and throw open an entirely new window onto the Universe, affording views of previously inaccessible such as the coalescence of black holes and neutron stars.

Einstein’s Cosmic Messengers

February 7, 2010

Einstein and the Mind of God

Filed under: Albert Einstein,Alex Michael Bonnici,Physics — ralphbuttigieg @ 6:31 pm

Today on Discovery Enterprise we take an intimate look at the last years of Albert Einstein’s life and the work that occupied his mind in the twilight years of his illustrious career.

In spring 1951 the most famous scientist in the world celebrated his 72 birthday. This is the extraordinary story how Albert Einstein spent the last years of his life. Battling to destroy the consequences of his own work. It was a quest that would end in his failure and isolation. The dramatic section in this film is an interpretation of Albert Einstein in his final hours.

Einstein And The Mind of God

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