Just got back from seeing Dr. Brian Greene’s presentation on the concepts of string theory at the Memorial Union. For those who don’t recognize the name, Dr. Greene is the author of The Elegant Universe and Fabric of the Cosmos, two New York Times-bestseller books on the nature of the universe and current theories in Physics and Mathematics. The presentation was really cool, though he didn’t present a whole lot of material that I hadn’t already heard. If you’re interested in insane physics like Superstring Theory, check out NOVA’s excellent program.
The presentation reminded me tonight of one of the coolest things in this world. Just how much there is to know. For instance, you’ve probably heard of “quantum physics” or “quantum mechanics” or quantum something-or-other. You’ve also probably heard of atoms, and understand that they are rediculously small. Did you realize, though, that the “quantum” scale you’re hearing about is 100 billion billion times smaller than an atom? I, for one, had no idea it was that small. And learning that was one of the coolest things from the whole presentation, because it reminded me just how much I don’t know. That’s awe-inspiring. I wish I had the time (and brain capacity) to learn everything. If college was free, I’d take 120 courses instead of 120 credits before I graduated.
Dr. Greene fielded some questions after the talk, which ranged from the insightful and interesting to the retarded ([Audience member] Q: “If Martians looked at the Earth through a really long telescope (wtf?), would human interactions be like quantum stuff?” [plus 3 minutes explaining this asinine idea]. [Dr Greene] A: “What??” No joke. That exact conversation [roughly] occured.). Any way, Dr. Greene’s ability to hear the rest of these questions and come up with explanations off the top of his head was amazing. Without even pausing to think, he gave answers that both addressed the question and did so with an appropriate level of complexity so that we learned something new, but still based the answer on the groundwork he had laid during his talk. Excellent speaker. I was very impressed.