Why Study General Relativity (and other exciting extensions such as superstring theory)?



Several authors and many plays/films have been (intentionally or not) using features found in Albert Einsteinīs General Relativity theory. In fact, you only have to read the following:

... that you may know 'tis no sinister, nor no a wikward claim, picked from the wormhole of long vanished days nor from the dust of old oblivion ...
from W. Shakespeare's Henry V.

More recently, another british icon was confronted with the pertinent features of modern cosmology. In the film "Die Another Day" it is said: "... Mr. Bond has been showing you the main thrust of his Big Bang theory."

Moreover, in Playboy's May 2000 issue someone wrote the following to the Editor: "... I volunteered to be the first human being to enter a black hole under laboratory conditions and experience time travel just as Einstein predicted. The result? I am now my own grandfather, my wife is Helen of Troy and my language is old Norse!..." (this just shows how some Editorial Boards should really include theoretical physicists - the reply was quite out of the required scientific context.)

The following quotation from F. Nietzsche (present in "The Gay Science, Aphorism 335"), strongly suggests We Should All be Physicists:

Let us therefore limit ourselves to the purification of our own opinions and valuations and to the creation of our own new tables of what is good, and let us stop brooding about the "moral value of our actions"! Yes, my friends, regarding all the moral chatter of some about others it is time to feel nauseous. Sitting in moral judgment should offend our taste. Let us leave such chatter and bad taste to those who have nothing else to do but drag the past a few steps further through time and who never live in the present --- which is to say the many, the great majority. We, however, want to become those we are --- human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who give themselves laws, who create themselves. To that end we must become the best learners and discoverers of everything that is lawful and necessary in the world: we must become physicists in order to be able to be creators in this sense --- while hitherto all valuations and ideals have been based on ignorance of physics or were constructed so as to contradict it. Therefore: long live physics! And even more so that which compels us to turn to physics --- our honesty!

And if that did not make you run to register for a physics degree, maybe the following quotation from T. Mann (present in "This Mortal Child of Eternal Nothingness-Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man) will:

. . . Meanwhile, Being celebrated its tumultuous festival in the measureless spaces that were its handiwork and in which it created distances congealed in icy emptiness. And he spoke of the gigantic setting of this festival, the universe, this mortal child of eternal Nothingness, filled with countless material bodies, meteors, moons, comets, nebulas, unnumbered millions of stars that swayed one another, were ordered by the effect of their gravitational fields into groups, clouds, galaxies, and super-systems of galaxies, each with enormous numbers of flaming suns, wheeling planets, masses of attenuated gas, and cold rubbish heaps of ice, stone, and cosmic dust . . .

While the Earth wheeled around its sun, so I was privileged to hear, that earth and its moon wheeled around each other, and at the same time our whole local star system moved, and at no mean pace, within the framework of a vaster but still very local star group. This gravitating system in turn wheeled with almost vulgar velocity within the Milky Way; the latter, moreover, our Milky Way, was travelling with unimaginable rapidity in respect to its far-away sisters, and they, the most distant existing complexes, were, in addition to all their other velocities, flying away from one another, at a rate that would make an exploding shell seem motionless --- flying away in all directions into Nothingness, thereby in their headlong career projecting into it space and time.

This interdependent whirling and circling, this convolution of gases into heavenly bodies, this burning, flaming, freezing, exploding, pulverizing, this plunging and speeding, bred out of Nothingness and awaking Nothingness --- which would perhaps have preferred to remain asleep and was waiting to fall asleep again --- all this was Being, known also as Nature, and everywhere in everything it was one.

(I found the above two previous quotes in S. Carroll's web page where you can find many other useful and intersting links)

I do hope the above may urge you to attend my (or any other's) General Relativity and Cosmology course. And also to go and ask the Head Amnistrative Officer at UBI (aka, the Magnifico Reitor) for more immensely attractive lecture courses on scientific subjects such as Superstring, Supergravity and M-theory, together with the quest for ourselves.

For that is what fundamental theoretical physics is all about: the "I" in each one of us. Furthemore, you can also have great fun with superstring features as the attached cartoon shows!

For a (very basic but hopefuly enthusiastic!) introduction to my research interests and work, you can browse this (Quantum) Cosmological Implications of Superstring Theory link.


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