Proton: a life story by Geraint F. Lewis 1035 years: I’ve lived a long and eventful life, but I
know that death is almost upon me. Around me, my kind are slowly melting into
the darkness that is now the universe, and my time will eventually come. I’ve lived a long and
10-43 seconds: A time of unbelievable light, unbelievable
heat! I don’t remember the time before I was born, but I was there,
disembodied, ethereal, part of the swirling, roaring fires of the universe coming
in to being. But the universe cooled. From the featureless
inferno, its character crystalized into a seething sea of particles and forces.
Electrons and quarks tore about, smashing and crashing into photons and
neutrinos. The universe continued to cool. 1 second: The intensity of the heat steadily died away, and I was born. In
truth, there was no precise moment of my birth, but as the universe cooled my
innards, free quarks, bound together, and I was suddenly there! A proton! But my existence seemed fleet…
Everyone loves black holes. Immense gravity, a one-way space-time membrane, the possibility of links to other universes. All lovely stuff.
A little trawl of the internets reveals an awful lot of web pages discussing black holes, and discussions about spaghettification, firewalls, lost information, and many other things. Actually, a lot of the stuff out there on the web is nonsense, hand-waving, partly informed guesswork. And one of the questions that gets asked is "What would you see looking out into the universe?"
Some (incorrectly) say that you would never cross the event horizon, a significant mis-understanding of the coordinates of relativity. Other (incorrectly) conclude from this that you actually see the entire future history of the universe play out in front of your eyes.
What we have to remember, of course, is that relativity is a mathematical theory, and instead of hand waving, we can use mathematics to work out what we will see. And that's what I did.
First, the usual apologies! It's been an age since I have written here, but, as you know, the life of the academic is a busy one! Especially since I have just completed a book which is to be published next year. More on that journey later, but today a little post about academic toolkits.
This is something that I have written about before, and I know some of my colleagues and peers disagree with me, but that's fine as I think it illustrates that there is no single recipe for success in academia (Am I a success in academia? That's for others to judge, but I am still here after twenty years :).
What makes a "good" academic? In modern academia, we have to be specialists, focused on a generally tiny part of the immense enterprise called science. When ever I realise this, Kenneth Williams springs immediately to mind
Crossing boundaries and commenting on other areas of science that are not in your domain is met with suspicion and attack, and it's not just new ideas…