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Wonders of the Stoner System

By John Clarke

Just like Carl Sagan before him, Prof. Brian Cox likes to get completely twatted when thinking about physics.

As it happens, I’ve just finished this guy’s book, Why Does E = MC2?, which was fantastic. If I ever get round to writing a new “expand your mind” book list, this will definitely be on there. Here’s what the book’s about:

This is an engaging and accessible explanation of Einstein’s equation that explores the principles of physics through everyday life. Professor Brian Cox and Professor Jeff Forshaw go on a journey to the frontier of 21st century science to consider the real meaning behind the iconic sequence of symbols that make up Einstein’s most famous equation. Breaking down the symbols themselves, they pose a series of questions: What is energy? What is mass? What has the speed of light got to do with energy and mass? In answering these questions, they take us to the site of one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted. Lying beneath the city of Geneva, straddling the Franco-Swiss boarder, is a 27 km particle accelerator, known as the Large Hadron Collider. Using this gigantic machine – which can recreate conditions in the early Universe fractions of a second after the Big Bang – Cox and Forshaw will describe the current theory behind the origin of mass. Alongside questions of energy and mass, they will consider the third, and perhaps, most intriguing element of the equation: ‘c’ – or the speed of light. Why is it that the speed of light is the exchange rate? Answering this question is at the heart of the investigation as the authors demonstrate how, in order to truly understand why E=MC2, we first must understand why we must move forward in time and not backwards and how objects in our 3-dimensional world actually move in 4-dimensional space-time. In other words, how the very fabric of our world is constructed. A collaboration between two of the youngest professors in the UK, “Why Does E=MC2?” promises to be one of the most exciting and accessible explanations of the theory of relativity in recent years.

Also, some of you may remember I wrote about getting a new HD telly and I asked for some suggestions on what to watch. The stuff you lot mentioned was excellent, but now I’ve got one for you. Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Solar System (DVD, Blu Ray), which is what the video above was pieced together from, not only looks incredible but was the best documentary we’ve seen in a long time:

Prepare to immerse yourself in an alien world as if you were standing there yourself. Giant ice fountains rising over 100km high; an ocean hidden beneath a frozen crust of ice; storms twice the size of Earth coloured blood red by a vortex of dust and gases; immense volcanoes that could rip a planet apart – this series reveals the true and awesome beauty of our solar system. Using the very latest breathtaking images sent directly from space, groundbreaking CGI transforms the static into the dramatic. Travelling from the Sun to the far-out reaches of Neptune, the series has at its heart the latest scientific knowledge beamed back from the fleet of probes, rovers and telescopes currently in space, and offers a vivid and unprecedented tour of the world beyond our planet.

I promise you this will “expand your mind” far more than whatever profound secret of the universe you think you’ve unlocked via a quick chuff on your DMT pipe..

4 Responses to Wonders of the Stoner System

  1. Barxy says:

    Thats quite possibly one of *the* best things i’ve seen on the internet for probably 6 months now.

  2. Tom says:

    Haha. That’s brilliant.

  3. Tim says:

    Thats well crafted piece of editing… loved it.
    i have to say i loved the series it brought back my love for all things scientificly great and awe inspiring.

  4. Daniel says:

    I’ve been watching his show on the Science Channel (which is great because I can watch a show on astrophysics almost every single day with their scheduling) here in the states. He’s certainly not a stuffy, empirical-data-only jerk – but the sort of scientist that still has a romantic outlook on the universe, despite knowing how, fundamentally, it can pretty much be described with math.

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