Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Probably The Best Lecture I've Attended

2005 is the Year of Physics and it has been 100 years since Einstein wrote his Theory and General and Special Relativity. It was something like another 16 years before he won the Nobel Prize for it.

The University of Western Australia put on an Einstein lecture last night and it was brilliant. The people waiting for the doors to open were initially geriatrics who were encircling the building, looking as though they had escaped from the nursing home and now didn't know what the next move was. Then the young people started to turn up and there were many dweebs, geeks and nerds among them - gawky looking people. And there had to be one - the jumper-tied-around-the-neck type. Only thing was he had two jumpers around his neck. The guy sitting next to me was reading "A discourse on salt, cadavers and pungent sauces".

Once the doors to the Octagon Theatre opened there was an excited rush. I took my seat in the second row and who should next to me but the jumper-tied-around-the-neck type. The professors presenting the night were using a Mac. Yes, I think I was surrounded by nerds. And just to prove this the first question asked was how long did it take for light to get from the Sun to Earth. Who else would answer this but me? I did answer it first and then a few more people did as the professors couldn't hear us. Next question regarded how long light took to get from the Moon to the Earth. Before I could calculate it a little girl yelled out "one second" and that was close enough for them.

Some of the subjects covered during the night:

Time Dilation
Length Contraction
Barn and Ladder Paradox
Uncertainty Principle
Existence is only possible by observation
Positronium Annihilation
Curved space makes gravity
Area of a cirle is not pi x r squared in space, which is curved
Gravito Magnetism
Schwartzchild's Singularities - Black Holes
Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation - LASERs
The Universe is absurd
Laser Interferometer Detectors
Cosmological Constant
Dark Energy
Cold Dark Matter

Following a few experiments/demonstrations and running a bit overtime they had question time. The amount and range of questions was amazing and they had to wrap it so that people could go home but people were welcome to come onto the stage to ask questions personally. Of course, I had a question but I listened to everyone else's questions and the answers that came forth as well. The lecture was supposed to go from 6:30 to 7:30 but actually finished at 8:30. And did I enjoy myself or what? It was fascinating stuff. Next thing is to visit the Gravity Discovery Centre and the Perth Observatory.

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