mathematical reality

John Barrow gives us an overview, from Aristotle's ideas to Cantor's never-ending tower of mathematical infinities, and from shock waves to black holes.

Quantum physics is hard. And weird. There's just no getting around it. It takes Plus a lot of tea and biscuits to write anything about the quantum world. But since discovering John Polkinghorne's book it thankfully has become a little bit easier.

This podcast comes to you from a conference on the nature of time. We talk to philosophers of physics Jeremy Butterfield and David Wallace, as well as the eminent Roger Penrose about the puzzle time poses to physicists and what it has to do with the Big Bang and the second law of thermodynamics.

The holy grail for 21st century physics is to produce a unified theory of everything that can describe the world at every level, from the tiniest particles to the largest galaxies. Currently the strongest contender for such a theory is something called M-theory. So what is this supposed mother of all theories all about?

Some of the things I overheard at Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday conference did make me wonder whether I hadn't got the wrong building and stumbled in on a sci-fi convention. "The state of the multiverse". "The Universe is simple but strange". "The future for intelligent life is potentially infinite". And — excuse me — "the Big Bang was just the decay of our parent vacuum"?!

This is the first part of the lecture given by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees at Stephen Hawking's birthday symposium.

This is the second part of the lecture given by Astronomer Royal Martin Rees at Stephen Hawking's birthday symposium.

What's a multiverse? What's the future for intelligent life? And what happened 380,000 after the Big Bang. Find out in these interviews with the physicists David Spergel and Raphael Bousso, who we spoke to during Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday conference.

This is one of our podcasts from Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday conference, which took place in January 2012 in Cambridge. Rachel Thomas talks to Renata Kallosh from Stanford University about a theory that promises to unite the physics of the very small — quantum physics — and the physics of the very large — Einstein's theory of gravity.

A traditional view of science holds that every system — including ourselves — is no more than the sum of its parts. To understand it, all you have to do is take it apart and see what's happening to the smallest constituents. But the mathematician and cosmologist George Ellis disagrees. He believes that complexity can arise from simple components and physical effects can have non-physical causes, opening a door for our free will to make a difference in a physical world.

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