Cornucopia of Delights Tonight seriously..
my mind is boggled. Watched them all and am now an enlightened one.
The Wonders of the Universe BBC1
Well missed about half of Professor Cox explaining the wonders of the universe the bad news being that the solar system and everything in it will eventually fade and die. Oh dear, that’s cheerful. Since this is on late and or in case we get depressed by this, Professor Cox, ever bubbly and prone to writing important numbers in lengthy scribes on the sand and opining wisely around singular glowing camp fires, tell us it’s ok:
“life is the way the universe understands itself”!
Even though the earth and life were just a wee window of opportunity in the path of “The window of light along the path of the arrow of time that leads from order to disorder”
nb.i thought i had understood it all previously even thought my brain felt fit to burst and could have sworn he said it was “disorder to order” after he had explained by means of a pile of sand and sandcastle the meaning of low and high entropy.
High entropy was when a structure could be moved around and still retain it’s form. Like the pile of sand. Low entropy was when very little interference caused the constructed sandcastle fall apart.
However now i see i was mistaken since it is the pile of sand as he explained which is the most likely form for the disorder of the universe to end up in.
You could move all the grains of sand around this pile and the general form remained the same. Thus it was more likely for the universe to end up like this pile of sand rather than the more unusual form of the sandcastle he had made from a bucket. However, and this was my favourite bit, the Professor stated that the formation of the ordered structured sandcastle was theoretically possible from the random swirl of sand. So you really can build castles in the sky..
Professor Cox did his best to assuage any panicking people on the delivery of this news about our solar system due to crank out by gentling pointing out that if he started counting all the atoms of the universe in his palm one by one it would be nowhere near the trillions of years we have until the whole big light bulb pops.
Cheerfully prosaic, Professor Cox described how one by one, the different types of stars would go. Our sun and others possibly first. That’s due to start in a billion years and end by 6 billion years. If we survive he postulated quite a sci-fi idea that there could be a red dwarf society as red dwarfs would be the next stars to be left standing. It could in theory work since they give off heat and solar flares, “which could be used for energy” the Prof. said. Cool.
nb. When Professor Cox walks around for some reason funky slightly rock music plays..Luckily this music doesn’t follow into his favourite desert hangouts. He looks like he’s on an eternal rave and might start talking about the sun God Ra any minute..
Yup, after the red dwarves go then it’s only the black dwarves left and since they are dreadfully intense in terms of matter ( i think i have that right) being of high gravity and full of decaying matter they don’t sound to good for living on. Oh well. Professor Cox did not dwell on that point. He did show us an amazing photograph of our teensy white glowing earth about the size of a translucent marble. This was our earth from 6 billion km away.
This photograph was taken from the Voyager probe he told us, on it’s last dip around the planets of Saturn and Jupiter. It had an orbit time of 13 years. The photograph was made up of two shots of earth and it’s surroundings. The photograph was very wide in size and laid out on the ground (in the desert again). This photo was made up of one shot of the earth taken thirteen years ago and a second shot as the Voyager turned for home 13 years later.
That little glowing light Professor Cox told us represented the small percentage of our existence relative to the length of the life of the universe and that :
” humans have walked the earth for only a brief fraction of time”
Professor Cox also told us optimistically that this photo showed how far we had come from building 13 temples to the sun. (so he did know about sun gods) and to the point where we could examine ourselves by way of science within the rest of the universe. Boy my brain may blow any time now..
Another bit i really liked was when he announced matter of factly that :
“There will be not one atom left, only faint light and black dwarves”.
Then they go.
“Then there is just photons “(looking like static on a black & white tv screen)
“Then there is absolute zero, meaning cold” too cold for atoms, so no particles can move.
( i think)
“Then the universe stops. Nothing then happens and will keep on not happening.”
Oh dear, dreary as this sounds and oh so horribly existential and all that, i couldn’t help immediately thinking of Talking Heads and their song:
“Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”
boy, Talking Heads, they knew a thing or too about physics i reckon..
I’m not sure if you will want to hear the rest, it gets a bit black, literally, but not of course in terms of physics or the laws of physics. You canna change the law of physics, and as Professor Cox explained, time is the only reason we have a past and a future. Since order going to disorder changes from one thing to another and so involves a time span.
This all means that the universe can’t help blowing from the sandcastle into the sand so to speak. His sand demonstration really helped for me.
nb. The Professor did address the idea of creating a system whereby the universe would not necessarily dissolve into disorder thereby stopping the end of the universe. This was possible in theory he said although it could not support life. (since there would be no time the presence of which is necessary for the passage of growth-he didn’t say this i inferred it )
So, Professor Cox explained, and look away now if this is going to bother you, being a description of the end of the universe;
“when there is no movement of anything the arrow of time will stop moving as it’s supply of energy ceases The entire cosmos will die. Every star will go out, the death of everything. Our sun and other suns also will do the same and so other life will fail too.”
Oh well. All is not lost. Professor Cox, on the top of desert hill pokes his glowing red fire and stares beatifically at us in soft focus and intones that the best thing about our “now”
“our ability to explore and understand this beautiful universe”