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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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