Midnight Oil

NMOC Re: [Powderworks] Astrophysicist Worker

Mathias Hermansson hermanator51 at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 30 03:37:25 MST 2003

If it counts, I am also a Master ocf Science in Engineering Physics who 
studied som Astronomy, but not much. And yes, I have read some cosmology 
(and some quantum physics as well), but now I have been working as a 
computer guy for the last six years so I have forgotten most of that :-(

Just for the record.

>I'm a software guy by profession, but physics in general
>and astrophysics in particular, especially as it relates
>to cosmology, are major interests of mine.  Right now I'm
>slowly making my way through Martin Rees' "New Perspectives
>in Astrophysical Cosmology," which I had to put down for a
>while because my (signed!) copy of Wille's showed up.  Well,
>hey, at least I have my priorities straight!
>I also like learning about particle physics and theory,
>although I'm nowhere near the math whiz I'd need to be to
>have any real depth of understanding in that field.  But
>what the hell, it's still fascinating.
>What really interests me, though, is the juxtaposition of
>the two in the early universe, during and shortly after
>the Big Bang.  In its first fraction of a second, the
>Universe was this incredibly dense, incredibly hot jumble
>of particles and radiation all flying around, expanding
>and cooling rapidly, and what really dominated at that time
>was the interactions between the particles and radiation.
>We can extrapolate backward from what we know today about
>those interactions, and we think we have a pretty good
>idea how things must've gone in the big bang, at least
>after the first ten-to-the-minus-thirtieth of a second.
>Those interactions determined the abundance of hydrogen
>and other light elements in the early universe, and the
>hydrogen gas started clumping togther in increasing
>amounts under gravitational attraction to form the first
>stars and galaxies.  Heavier elements were forged inside
>those stars, and scattered around the universe when some
>of the stars ended their lives as supernovas.  The
>gravitational clumping started again, this time with
>other elements mixed in with the hydrogen, and eventually,
>over a few more cycles, some of those clumps formed into
>solar systems and planets and stuff... and here we are.
>At least, that's what we think happened.
>So, if that's true, then quite literally, we are all
>made of stardust.  Gotta love that!
>I could ramble on for hours about all of this stuff.
>It's all interesting to me, and there are just so many
>Big Questions in here.  For example:
>How (or better, why) did the fundamental forces and laws
>of nature become established with the values and properties
>they have today, so that the universe could evolve the way
>it has, allowing the existence of conscious beings who are
>able to contemplate such ideas?  If the strengths of any of
>the four forces had been even the tiniest bit different,
>we would not be here to think about it.  Not in our current
>forms, anyway.
>Or, why are there so many different kinds of particles?
>Are they all just different forms of the same thing, as
>string theory suggests?  What purpose do they serve, aside
>from intriguing scientists?
>Or, why do particles exhibit quantum behavior, anyway?
>Will we ever truly understand the wave-particle duality?
>Or, what causes the gamma-ray bursts we've been detecting?
>Something really big blowing up?  Black holes eating stars?
>(Apparently it's a good thing we don't detect those any
>closer than we do.)
>Or, why does the universe appear to not only be expanding,
>but expanding at an increasing rate?  What's up with THAT?
>Or, just what the hell is dark matter, anyway?  Neutrinos?
>Something else?  What?  WHAT?
>It's all totally cosmic!  And the more we learn, the
>weirder it gets.
>And my main regret about being mortal is that it's unlikely
>I'll ever find out the answers to most of those questions.
>Oh well... at least there's good music to listen to while
>I ponder the mysteries.
>	o-o
>	\_/   Andy
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Powderworks (on behalf of Patrick Collins)
>Subject: NMOC Re: [Powderworks] Astrophysicist Worker
>Sorry, it's not me, but I thought I was the only one.  How many other
>astrophysicist powderworkers are there?
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>Powderworks at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu

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