If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, 13 February 2016

What do you care what colliding black holes are saying?

[As you might have noticed, the headline above is pure plagiarism. It's copied from physicist Richard Feynman's (FAIN-muns) oral autobiography: "What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character.]

BLACK HOLES are the most massive objects that exist in our known universe, where the gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape. That's how the thing got its rather ugly name. The nearest black hole to us is just about thousands of light years (lys) away. That is, if you could travel as fast as light, you would take thousands of years to reach there. Should we care about them? Really, should we care what two colliding black holes far away started telling us a billion years ago? In the New York Times, physicist Lawrence M. Krauss argues yes, we should, rather, we must. And this is his argument.

"WITH presidential primaries in full steam, with the country wrapped up in concern about the economy, immigration and terrorism, one might wonder why we should care about the news of a minuscule jiggle produced by an event in a far corner of the universe.

"The answer is simple. While the political displays we have been treated to over the past weeks may reflect some of the worst about what it means to be human, this jiggle, discovered in an exotic physics experiment, reflects the best. Scientists overcame almost insurmountable odds to open a vast new window on the cosmos. And if history is any guide, every time we have built new eyes to observe the universe, our understanding of ourselves and our place in it has been forever altered. ...

"Too often people ask, what’s the use of science like this, if it doesn’t produce faster cars or better toasters. But people rarely ask the same question about a Picasso painting or a Mozart symphony. Such pinnacles of human creativity change our perspective of our place in the universe. Science, like art, music and literature, has the capacity to amaze and excite, dazzle and bewilder. I would argue that it is that aspect of science — its cultural contribution, its humanity — that is perhaps its most important feature."
If you wish to read the entire article, please follow this link.

Kolkata / 13 Feb 2016

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