In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (Radio 4)

Discussion in 'The Science Forum' started by Dashing_Chap, May 26, 2011.

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  1. ++ The whole archive of In Our Time is now available to download here: BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Podcasts ++

    It's high time we had a thread dedicated to In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (Radio 4).

    As far as I'm concerned this is the best show on the radio and for those of you who aren't familiar I strongly recommend listening, the subjects are diverse as they are fascinating. The only other series I have come across which is similar is from The Teaching Company, but that’s not really a radio show and I honestly can’t fathom why the rest of the world hasn’t done something similar with authorities from Harvard or Copenhagen etc.

    See here for the main site:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Homepage

    Archive for History:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Archive by Genre: History - page 1

    Archive for Culture:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Archive by Genre: Culture - page 1

    Archive for Philosophy:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Archive by Genre: Philosophy - page 1

    Archive for Religion:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Archive by Genre: Religion - page 1

    Archive for Science:
    BBC - Radio 4 - In Our Time - Archive by Genre: Science - page 1

    It would be great to discuss some of the subjects covered in more detail, perhaps we can listen to each show as it comes or just pick one of particular interest?

    I'd also like to note that the entire series is available to download so you can listen to them all on an MP3 player or your phone etc which is invaluable for those who commute, but naturally I can't really post the details on a public forum. (Google and torrent is your friend but should you require further info just pm).

    I'd like to get things rolling with this episode: The Speed of Light.
    BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - In Our Time, The Speed of Light

  2. Quality DC... hope it takes off. I'll brb...
  3. Right... I can now advise the entire world all about light...what it is, how it works and where to buy the lamps.

    The stuff that light travels through is much more interesting though... anyone want to know?
  4. You mean the reference to empty space or water?

    I was quite interested by the fantastic claims of the tachyon, more info about that here:

    Faster-than-light 'tachyons' might be impossible after all - space - 18 March 2009 - New Scientist

  5. I can visualise the fabric of existence being everywhere, infinite and eternal...time is static. Imagine a block of this light appears to pass through it like a wave or as a single particle, it is rather like flotsam becoming visible on the crests and then sinking down out of sight. The photons actually travel nowhere...the wave just exposes what is there hidden or switched off. So everything, matter and energy is in some way connected and pops into existence according to forces like wind from within the void...

    Tachyons are probably the theoretical way of expressing stimuli across space as if connected by string... push or pull in any dimension and it has an instant effect... What appears to be movement is the illusion...the waves simply change the infinite states of potential at any point within the existence stuff...ok?

    I'm just going to nip back to my shed to check the maths.... brb.... :)

    .....distance in this model is meaningless.

  6. Pretty deep stuff, so you're suggesting that light plays an important role in the existence of matter and if there were no light waves there wouldn't be any matter either?

    One of the most interesting parts I found was the life extension of particles travelling close to the speed of light. I have The In Our Time book with full texts from the conversations, I'll see if it's in there.

  7. Interesting.

  8. The speed of light and the concept of time seem to me to be part of what is only a human viewpoint on existence. We are trapped in a dimension that appears to work in a particular way but we could be reading it all wrong...

    Infinite layers and possibilities exist within the fabric of what we call space/time... Black holes are random points in this fabric that are sucking stuff back into 'nothingness'... where the laws of physics break down into the unknown. Time, speed and size may have no meaning. Perhaps exceeding the speed of light also penetrates this would disappear into the void.

    My dog has volunteered for a high speed experiment in our tumble drier, the drum is geared to the rear wheel of a Volvo so it should be possible to accelerate him out of this existence....The time machine is patent pending.
  9. Remember it must spin the opposite way to the earth to go back in time and the same way as the earth but faster to go forward, might be a good idea to rig it all up to the mains too to create an electromagnetic field. Have you had the machine blessed by the appropriate faiths? Wouldn't want to sacrifce fido or send him into low level orbit without the conscent of the Egyptian Dog God, perhaps he might even team up with Laika?

    Sounds like you're describing the Ether, the fabric of space/time is rather a good subject for our next podcast, but it also has a lot in common with the speed of light so we can keep that general convo going too.

    The Vacuum of Space:
    BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - In Our Time, The Vacuum of Space

    There's a mention of you in there too.

    I'll leave it a few days before posting another podcast otherwise we might miss additional comments.

  10. The dog survived...but came back with a message in his collar. An invoice for carpet cleaning...

    Ether theory is probably only partly flawed because the stuff that exists in there is pure potential, nothing else and can't be can be described as a field with zero density where only quantum fluctuation happen. Disturbed by events from dimensions within, light is a parameter for this existence so is relative....manifested by the interaction of mass and energy, the detectable tip of a legacy with roots in the void...fields within fields within nothing. The Higgs is likely to be invoked at some kind of super high frequency threshold or resonance. Mass is running at detectable lower frequencies.

    I had a thought after hearing that last podcast. Imagine that you are sat on the rotating axis of a huge metal dial millions of miles long. It is spinning so fast that the extreme tip of the dial exceeds the speed of light. What would you see happening to the tip?

    a. From your POV.

    b. From a million miles above the dial?

    Pity others are skipping this exellent thread... :)
  11. I think 'nuon' should be 'muon' (unless you're Jewish, already).

    I have a vague recollection of measuring muon behaviour at Uni. ... here's a brief calculation I've just knocked up on my latest toy, Mathcad Prime, to show just how much longer it lives in our inertial frame (well, sort of inertial).

    arrse 28 May 11.jpg

    Attached Files:

  12. You wouldn't - the situation would not arise because the tip could not exceed the speed of light.
  13. Great idea, but a *teeny* bit impossible. As the article (and excognito) stated, no normal matter can travel faster (or exactly as fast as, for that matter) than light. If it were possible, you would most likely be observed to be moving more slowly than you actually are (I think, though it would be neither a Lorenz contraction nor time dilation effect, but one caused by the fact that you would be moving faster than the photons advertising your presence), or you may become invisible, as the photons that enable organisms to see us will not be able to catch up with you in order to bounce off and into an observer's eyes. That said, it won't ever happen (I'll do a detailed explanation of why not via pm on request- decent grasp of mathematics helpful).
  14. Cogi, sorry I don't understand your post....any chance of informing me in simple terms what measuring the behavior of the muon has actually told us. That it lives longer because of velocity or something like that?

    Yes, I know that... but what is the physical barrier? And if it was possible would the tip disappear into another dimesion?

    Thanks for that... I obviously don't know anything about maths so everything I say is from imagination, poor science fiction sorry. Without observing the tip of the dial what would be happening to it as it reaches the speed of light? It's a bit like the problem of being in a spacecraft at the speed of light I an observer it would disappear but being inside everything would be normal? Do the properties of matter break down and leave this existence above the speed of light, Back to the Future style?
  15. Relativity forbids ordinary matter (the disk edge) from ever reaching the speed of light, because it would require infinite energy. If you were on the edge I imagine things would appear normal but time would slow down relative to you. Though apparently the tachyon, if it exists, has no mass and actually generates energy when it goes faster than the speed of light.

    Good thought experiment btw I might try and think of one too.