“How big” is almost always an easier question to answer than
“how old.” Though we can measure the sizes of animals and plants
easily enough, we can often only guess at their ages. The same was
long true of the cosmos. The ancient Greeks Eratosthenes...
Light is the great unifier. John Wheeler, the beloved Princeton
physicist, used to draw the universe as a big capital
U with a little eye on one leg, signifying that
we, human beings, are the eyes of the universe looking back at
itself. The universe...
“Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun,” read the New
York Times headline last March 17. In a seemingly momentous
news conference at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,
researchers using a BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic...
Young children often pose the most interesting questions. “Why
are we here?” is one of them. And this question can take on many
forms. One of them is “Why is there anything at all?” Another is
“Why am I alive?” or “Why am I me?”
In the public lecture “The Latest News from the Cosmos,” Matias
Zaldarriaga, Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, explores
the most detailed map of the infant universe to date. Publicly
released on March 21, 2013, the map shows relic...
One of the remarkable discoveries in astrophysics has been the
recognition that the material we see and are familiar with, which
makes up the earth, the sun, the stars, and everyday objects, such
as a table, is only a small fraction of all of the...