...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...


I am a nerd. I have no issues with admitting that. In fact, I got a subscription to Discover magazine about a year ago to nurture the more "scientific" aspect of my nerdly side. One day I was thinking to myself: I like to read about the weird, fascinating things that go on in the human brain, in the universe, etc. So I really should get a subscription to something that discusses that kind of shit. I settled on Discover because, well, I was able to get a subscription for under $10. I may be a nerd, but I'm also a cheap whore.

So I indulged. And it was the worst cheap whoriness I've experienced. I mean, just because you're writing about neurofibrils or astrophysics, does it really need to be written 100% dry and boring? I think not.

Discover also has a very weird and conservative bent to it as well. Which I guess doesn't surprise me all that much in retrospect. But I wasn't expecting it at the time. OFTEN I read it and think to myself (particularly with regard to their animal-related subject matters), Really? You're not even going to acknowledge vegetarianism in this very relevant little blurb about meat-consumption? Or really? Old stuffy white guy says what?

Needless to say, I am letting the subscription expire.

And of course, now that I made that decision, the final issue ends up being this completely interesting issue about time and space and the universe.

The more interesting subjects this time around:

  • How we experience time--Article claims that our brains read time like music. I find myself thinking this is LOVELY as fuck. But then I think about it more, and it dawns on me that in order to read music, we need time. So doesn't this theory kind of collapse on itself? It's like saying our brains read time like... time. Der. Nonetheless: for a moment it was quite lovely. And not dry for once.

  • Dark energy--or why I love paradoxes and anything that undercuts science. "With the discovery of dark energy came difficult questions: What is this energy, and where does it come from? Physicists simply do not know. According to quantum mechanics, the energy of empty space comes from the virtual particles that dwell there. But when physicists use the equations of quantum theory to calculate the amount of that virtual energy, they get a ridiculously huge number--about 120 orders of magnitude too large. That much energy would literally blow the universe apart: Objects a few inches from us would be carried away to astronomical distances; the universe would literally double in size every 10[-43] seconds, and it would keep doubling at that rate until all the vacuum energy was gone. This may be the most colossal gap between observation and theory in the history of science. And it means that physicists are missing something fundamental about the way the universe works." BURN!

  • Vacuums--"If the vacuum is not at the lowest energy state possible, then at some point in the future, the vacuum could fall to a lower state, pulsing out energy that would threaten the very structure of the cosmos. If some clever engineer were ever to extract energy from the vacuum, it could set off a chain reaction that would spread at the speed of light and destroy the universe. [!!]" Death by Hoover!

  • Science experiments that could DESTROY US ALL--"A lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Honolulu seeks to halt the opening of [the Large Hadron Collider--a particle accelerator outside of Geneva, Switzerland]... The charge... is that microscopic black holes produced at the collider might coalesce and engulf the earth, ending all life as we know it." Sweet.

  • M Theory--"Some researchers, though, expect the LHC to turn up evidence of something very new indeed--extra dimensions of space. According to M theory--the latest, most audacious attempt to explain the fundamental workings of physics--the space around us may be made of as many as 11 dimensions. M theory proposes that the ultimate building blocks of the universe are not particles but tiny vibrating loops of energy, or strings, as physicists call them. For complicated mathematical reasons, these loops need 11 dimensions in which to vibrate; otherwise the theory doesn't work. We experience only four dimensions (three of space and one of time) in everyday life because the other seven are supposedly so small that we do not notice them...

    One way to picture this is to imagine a tightrope walker on a high wire. To the tightrope walker the wire is essentially one-dimensional, a line pointing in one direction. But an ant crawling on the wire would see it as a three-dimensional object; the ant could crawl completely around the wire, experiencing a dimension that is inaccessible to the tightrope walker. String theorists would say we're like the tightrope walker, except that our "rope" is an 11-dimensional space, of which we are able to perceive only four dimensions...

    Some physicists like to think that M theory will form the basis of what they call a theory of everything, a set of laws that will completely describe the universe in all its strangeness, where dark energy, quantum theory, extra dimensions, and magazine readers [*bahahaha--eye roll*] will all fit into one tidy package. But in the end, the key to cosmic truth may well come from another window on reality, the looming void. A good theory of nothing just might be the theory of everything physicists have sought for so long."

But my favorite part of this issue actually stemmed from my initial misreading of a word. In an article about vacuums, they began to reference particles called Higgs bosons. Which I misread as Higgs bosoms. And which actually made the article WAY more interesting:

"If the Higgs field does exist, the LHC should find a previously unseen particle called the Higgs boson. [Teehee] Just as light, which is an electromagnetic field, is transmitted by particles called photons, physicists expect that the mass-endowing effect of the Higgs field is ferried by Higgs bosons. {*giggle*}

This discovery of the Higghs boson [hee] would answer one of the most basic puzzles of our reality."

Ahh bosons. *Getting tingly in my netherparts*



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