Is the Universe an Accident?
Alan Lightman: For centuries scientists and especially physicists have believed that we would be able to show why our universe is as it is as a necessary consequence of certain fundamental principles and laws. Like finding – having a crossword puzzle with only one solution, the given certain very fundamental principles like the law of conservation of energy that there would be only one self-consistent universe allowed. And that has been sort of the holy grail of physics and we have been pretty successful in showing such things as why snowflakes have six-sided symmetry, why raindrops are round, why the sky is blue as necessary consequences of a small number of physical principles.
What has happened in the last ten years or so – or 15 years is we now believe – when I say we I mean most theoretical physicists – now believe that our universe is just one of a vast number of universes all with very different physical properties. And all of these different universes originate from the same fundamental principles. So there’s not one solution to the crossword puzzle. There are many solutions to the crossword puzzles. In that case there’s no possibility of explaining why our universe is a necessary consequence of the fundamental principles. There are many, many different possibilities. Some of these other universes might have 17 dimensions. Some of them might have planets and stars like ours. Others may have just an amorphous field of energy with no planets and stars. Some of them might allow life like our universe. Some of them may not allow life. And our universe is just one lucky draw from the hat.
In which case we are accidental. We are an accidental universe. And so the historic mission of science, and especially physics, to show that we are – our universe is the unique result of a certain set of fundamental principles – that historic mission is no longer feasible. It’s no longer possible. This conclusion makes theoretical physicists extremely unhappy because it means that a lot of our mission is an illusion. But that may be the way nature is.
Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen discusses whether our society should always defend free speech rights, even for groups who would oppose such rights.
- Former ACLU president Nadine Strossen understands that protecting free speech rights isn't always a straightforward proposition.
- In this video, Strossen describes the reasoning behind why the ACLU defended the free speech rights of neo-Nazis in Skokie, Illinois, 1977.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.
- July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
- Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
- NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
Pugs and bulldogs are incredibly trendy, but experts have massive animal welfare concerns about these genetically manipulated breeds.
- Pugs, Frenchies, boxers, shih-tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade.
- Higher visibility (usually in a celebrity's handbag), an increase in city living (smaller dogs for smaller homes), and possibly even the fine acting of Frank the Pug in 1997's Men in Black may be the cause.
- These small, specialty pure breeds are seen as the pinnacle of cuteness – they have friendly personalities, endearing odd looks, and are perfect for Stranger Things video montages.
Jokesters and serious Area 51 raiders would be met with military force.
- Facebook joke event to "raid Area 51" has already gained 1,000,000 "going" attendees.
- The U.S. Air Force has issued an official warning to potential "raiders."
- If anyone actually tries to storm an American military base, the use of deadly force is authorized.