What is the most astounding scientific fact about the Universe — of all time?
Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is asked by a reader of TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This was his answer. NOTE: I typed the transcript at the end of this post.
I posted several articles previously that highlight some tremendous accomplishments by Albert Einstein (listed below). This one is about dreams that Albert Einstein could not transform into a unifying theory for reality — evidence strongly indicates this was his greatest desire.
His work and the stimulation that he applied in vigorous debates and with encouragements for his colleagues did however make the pain tolerable.
First, lets review his momentum.
In 1905, Einstein published exceptional papers that proposed the existence of the photon as an elementary particle associated with electromagnetic radiation (light), detailed photoelectric effect, demonstrated the existence of atoms, wrote an introduction to special relativity, and published the paper that led to the famous E=MC² equation that defines matter as condensed energy. He continued work and in 1907, he developed the first quantum theory of specific heats and from 1907 to 1915, Einstein developed the theory of general relativity.
The Danish physicist, Niels Bohr provided in 1913 a quantum idea to explain the actions of electrons inside atoms. Einstein recognized that a quantum theory may be used to explain the characteristic light as emitted by atoms and that a great discovery had been made. He referred to Bohr’s work as “the highest form of musicality in the sphere of thought.”
In 1915, Einstein introduced the General Theory of Relativity. According to this revolutionary theory space and time are not Absolute. Space-time is not a fixed background for events. Instead, dynamic quantities of matter and energy form matter in ways that are unclear to this day. Einstein’s finding proves that space-time are defined within the universe — only. Further, his findings also prove matter is highly concentrated energy.
Matter is actually energy condensed to a slow vibration. Watch this:
With his famous equation E=MC², Albert Einstein proved that when you come right down to it everything in the universe is energy. Both in the physical plane of our reality of matter and the abstract reality of our mind are made up of energy patterns.
The concept of a universal energy flow is not a new one. The ancient Chinese called this flow chi; the ancient Hindus called it prana. The disciplines that developed in those two cultures – t’ai chi and yoga, respectively- are based on the art of tuning in to the flow of energy and using it to centre the self.
Particle physicists try to understand the nature of nature at the smallest scales possible. Today, we know that atoms do not represent the smallest unit of matter. Particles called quarks and leptons seem to be the fundamental building blocks – but perhaps there is something even smaller.
Empty space, we have discovered, is actually not empty at all.
Astrophysicists have found that less than 10 percent of the mass of the entire universe consists of the kind of “luminous” matter that we can see. What is the dark matter that makes up the rest of the universe? How can we find out? Though we understand many important properties of the fundamental building blocks of our universe, there are untold mysteries still to solve.
Advances in technology allow physicists to build more powerful and sophisticated instruments to look deeper and deeper inside matter. Like adventurers entering unknown territory, physicists forge ahead into ever smaller dimensions.
What will be their next discovery?
Spoken by Deepak Chopra
It took many years to finish and then prove general relativity. Indeed however, the effort paid off. The GPS on your phone couldn’t work without General Relativity. He made discovery possible for the mathematics of using redshifts (traces of movements) of distant galaxies to discover how the universe is expanding. General Relativity includes Einstein’s 10 field equations (EFE) that aided Monseigneur Georges Lemaître‘s proposal of what’s known as the Big Bang theory and also for predictions for the existence of black holes. Without his equations there would not be gravitational lensing that is presently being used to do research as to how dark matter may influence the universe. Other areas such a nuclear power and discovery of massive objects that distort space-time such as neutron stars that have too little luminosity also are managed because of Einstein’s General Relativity mathematics.
As Einstein was becoming aware of what was a new atomic theory, by 1915 having the Bohr (quantum) model of the atom, he understood that energy levels of electrons are predictably discrete and that electrons revolve in orbits around an atomic nucleus but that the electron can jump from one energy level (or orbit) to another. So, by 1916 Einstein devised a vastly improved fundamental statistical theory of heat that proved itself based on the quantum of energy. His theory predicted that as light passed through a substance it could stimulate the emission of more light. This effect is at the heart of the modern laser.
Einstein’s studies revealed the possibility of making a powerful light amplifier.
Modern lasers have thousands of practical applications based on this. Lasers are great aids in research as scientists explore theories and work further to discover the nature of our universe.
By 1925 a quantum theory of physics emerged by the collective creation of a generation of theoretical physicists from many nations. Scientists were collaborating and debating how to interpret the mechanics of quantum atoms. They already sensed the vast importance of the work they were doing.
Einstein took an active role in these discussions. Heisenberg, Bohr, and other creators of the theory insisted that the new theory provided for no meaningful way to discuss certain details of an atom’s behavior. For example, one could never predict the precise moment when an atom would emit a quantum of light. Einstein could not accept this lack of certainty; and he raised one objection after another. At the Solvay Conferences of 1927 and 1930 the debate between Bohr and Einstein went on day and night, neither man conceding defeat. Momentum slowed. Herein is the basis for the title.
Einstein was there at the 1927 conference of physics. So was Bohr and many other famous scientists. Said Einstein, “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us closer to the secret of the ‘Old One.’ I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.”
However, by the mid 1930s, Einstein accepted quantum mechanics as a consistent theory for understanding behavior of atoms. He recognized that it was “the most successful physical theory of our time.” However, Einstein could not accept quantum mechanics as a completed theory since its mathematics did not describe individual events. He hoped his own general theory of relativity would benefit by his investigations of quantum mechanics.
The search for a unified theory would occupy much of the rest of his life. However, the unified theory still eludes scientist to this day. Yet, much has been our benefit as the science of the early 1900s is still generating stimulating interests, technology and scientific milestones.
Check back frequently. I love learning with you.
I hope everyone is enjoying my series on Einstein and its side tracks with me. Its been a great review for me and actually, its been helpful for some school children as well. Links to the other articles and a couple of side tacks are listed below.
Thanks for visiting.
What is the most astounding scientific
fact about the Universe — of all time?
“The most astounding fact… the most astounding fact is the knowledge; that the atoms comprise life on earth; the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the crucibles, that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core, under extreme temperatures and pressures.
These stars, the high mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts, across the galaxy.
Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become part of gas clouds, that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems – stars with orbiting planets and those planets now have ingredients for life itself.
So that when I look up at the night sky, and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us.
When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small, because they’re small and the universe is big, but I feel big; because my atoms, came from those stars.
There is a level of connectivity.
That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant. You want to feel like your a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”
~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson
I just love what Tyson said in answer to this question.