Riddle Me the Universe (or Multiverse)

Self-styled gurus in “efficiency” often suggest that an effective strategy in dealing with various tasks at hand may be to deal with the more difficult ones first.  In that vain, as you set to fulfill your (Persian) new year resolutions, you may wanna resolve the deeper issues first.  One such issue, no doubt, would be understanding the most fundamental explanations for everything that’s happening in the universe in which we’re embedded, i.e. uncovering the core laws encompassing every phenomenon in the universe (or multiverse, as some speculate).

In that regard, we employ the expertise of Dr. Nima Arkani-Hamed (A.-H.), one of the world’s foremost particle physicists, who has a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, the world’s premiere institution for research in fundamnetal physics (ever since Einstein and other top scientists of the day were housed there early last century).  A 2005 News Feature in the journal Nature states, “The son of two Iranian physicists, Arkani-Hamed was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in Boston. After the Iranian revolution of 1979, his family returned to their homeland, but as religious fundamentalists took over the government, his father was forced to go underground and the family eventually had to flee across the border to Turkey. By 1982, Nima was living in Toronto, Canada.  Recalling his early life, Arkani-Hamed says that his time in Iran was largely a positive experience. “The strange thing is that I have mostly wonderful memories,” he says. If anything, he adds, it taught him to worry less about what others thought of him. “Given that so many aspects of my life have been unusual, I’ve never had a problem with feeling different or being different or doing different things.””

In Oct. 2010 Dr. A.-H. delivered a series of Messenger Lectures at Cornell University on our current understanding of and research on particle physics and cosmology.  The Messenger Lectures are delivered to a university-wide audience by invited renowned scholars in various fields of knowledge.  The talks are intended for a general audience, so no expertise in physics or math is required for the following lectures, just an open and critical mind.  Dr. A.-H. delivered these lectures on five consecutive days, with each one starting with an introduction by a Cornell faculty member.  Unless you are already familiar with the topic, it’s best to view the talks in the order presented for conceptual continuity.  Following are links to the 5 videos at Cornell’s website:

1) “Setting the stage: Space-time and Quantum Mechanics

2) “Our “Standard Models” of particle physics and cosmology

3) “Space-time is doomed. What replaces it?

4) “Why is there a macroscopic universe?

5) “A new golden age of experiments: What might we know by 2020?

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