(NPR Science Friday) Sir Roger Penrose calls string theory a "fashion," quantum mechanics "faith," and cosmic inflation a "fantasy." ... What's wrong with modern physics—and could alternative theories explain our observations of the universe? Full lectures: Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe (Lecture 1: FASHION)(Lecture 2: FAITH.)(Lecture 3: FANTASY.) [more inside]
"The detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang — if confirmed — opens a new chapter in astronomy, cosmology and physics. The signature, seen by the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole, packs at least three discoveries into one: It provides the most direct evidence for the existence of the waves predicted by Einstein; it is the proof of ‘cosmic inflation’ that physicists had been eagerly awaiting; and it opens a window into the unification of the fundamental forces of nature and into quantum gravity." NYT article, in depth Nature News feature. [more inside]
Do Gravity Waves Exist? This is one of the big unanswered questions in physics. Gravity telescopes such as the LIGO and the Geo 600 may soon tell us. These massive detectors are sensitive to a displacement of 1 part in 1000000000000000000000-- that's like "measuring a change of one hydrogen atom diameter in the distance from the Earth to the Sun." Such a discovery would mean a tremendous boom to science. And big cash payouts to those who put their money where there mouth was.