Wave of the future, wave of the past

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics recognizes three scientists’ “decisive contributions to … the observation of gravitational waves.” “The 2017 Nobel Laureates have, with their enthusiasm and determination, each been invaluable to the success of  the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory,” says a statement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “Pioneers Rainer Weiss and Kip S…. Read more »

Penrose files

Here is a selection of the first scans from the Gravity Archive. These were created at the Bodleian Libraries, at the University of Oxford in England. The first round of scanning involved two of Roger Penrose’s journals, totalling about 200 two-page spreads. Thousands more pages are still to come, just for Penrose’s papers. The actual archival… Read more »

A picture of the Universe

  “I want to give you a picture of the Universe.” Roger Penrose opened a recent lecture with these words. He meant them literally. Penrose decodes the Universe through geometry. His presentations and journals are filled with strange shapes: cones and “twistors;” non-periodic tiles; diagrams of four-dimensional space represented in two-dimensions. Many of Penrose’s public… Read more »

Things fall

Gravity is both one of the most intuitive aspects of everyday life, and also one of the most vexing mysteries of the physical world. It is one of four fundamental forces, and a property of anything that has mass. Gravity is attractive. Every bit of conventional matter – every pebble, person, and planet – pulls… Read more »