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  • That's the wonderful thing about theoretical physics.

  • It's moved forward inch by inch by inch.

  • Everything that's gone on has been

  • subsumed into a mass of common wisdom that you can draw upon.

  • I think I'm extraordinarily lucky to be able to just try

  • to answer these fundamental questions about what forms

  • the scaffolding for the galaxies that we see in our instruments.

  • What's this mystery invisible stuff that's making up

  • the deep sum of the universe?

  • If you go back to the early days of European exploration,

  • you have these famous maps where there's the limits of the known

  • land, and then there's dragons and monsters out there

  • in the terra incognita, where people don't really

  • know what's going on.

  • We are, in some sense, working off the map.

  • Theorists are the people who come up

  • with ideas of how the universe might work,

  • and experimentalists are the people who test them.

  • You know, humanity is a bootstrap.

  • If you have to think about all of the creative details that

  • led to the point that you're at, you'd

  • never be able to get that little step forward

  • that would be your own creative addition to it.

  • Einstein came up with his theory of general relativity, which

  • predicts, in principle, gravitational waves,

  • the oscillations of spacetime that carry energy

  • from distant collapsing pairs of black holes

  • that will send out these gravitational waves that were

  • just this last year, for the first time,

  • heard by the LIGO experiment.

  • So that's 100 years between the time someone

  • wrote down a theory and the time that one

  • of the particular ramifications of that theory

  • was identified and observed experimentally.

  • It would be wonderful if we could figure out

  • what dark matter is.

  • But so long as we keep finding really interesting new things

  • along the way, I really can't complain.

  • You keep butting your head against it.

  • And every once in a while, some person, usually

  • a young person looking at it for the first time,

  • turns the picture through 45 degrees

  • and sees it organized in a way that the person who'd

  • been looking at it all their life doesn't see it.

  • And that's when the breakthroughs occur,

  • and they're impossible to predict.

  • It's a wonderful thing to start out with first-year students,

  • and then you watch them over the years turn

  • into people who are really masters of the field who

  • can stand up with you at the chalkboard and say, no, no,

  • I disagree with you.

  • It works like this.

  • And then eventually, they start developing their own interests,

  • and start diverging from what you're doing,

  • and you no longer need to come up with projects for them

  • or steer them because they're striking out on their own.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

That's the wonderful thing about theoretical physics.

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銀河の足場 (Scaffolding of the Galaxies)

  • 51 1
    jbsatvtac1 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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