The two towering achievements of modern physics are quantum theory and Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Together, they explain virtually everything about the world in which we live. But almost a century after their advent, most people haven’t the slightest clue what either is about. Radio astronomer, award-winning writer and broadcaster Marcus Chown talks to fellow stargazer Fred Watson about his book Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You.
Marcus Chown is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. Formerly a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, he is now cosmology consultant of the weekly science magazine New Scientist.
The Magic Furnace, Marcus' second book, was chosen in Japan as one of the Books of the Year by Asahi Shimbun. In the UK, the Daily Mail called it "a dizzy page-turner with all the narrative devices you'd expect to find in Harry Potter". His latest book is called Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You.
Fred Watson is astronomer in charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Coonabarabran, where his main scientific interest is gathering information on very large numbers of stars and galaxies. He is an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology, the University of Southern Queensland and James Cook University.
Watson is well-known for his astronomy slots on ABC radio. His books include Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope and Why is Uranus Upside Down?, which won the 2008 Queensland Premier’s Award for Science Writing.
He worked on the ABC's new blockbuster Universe as chief consultant. In 2003 Fred received the David Allen Prize for communicating astronomy to the public, and in 2006 was the winner of the Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science.
Marcus Chown, author of Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You: A Guide to the Universe, discusses the mechanics behind quantum computers, explaining that they function by having atoms exist in multiple places at once.
He predicts that quantum computers will be produced within 20 years.
Yes, at first the moderator seems intrusive. But he keeps the interview alive with his witty and sometimes "corny" (An Amercanism which loosly means deliberately unsophisticated.) His Microphone is mixed 10 decibiles higher than his guest adds to tthe annoyance.
Piko, creation of something from nothing is a violation of conservation law. It is also a violation of common sense, but that's a subjective observation...
As for the "black hole" at the centre of the milky way, if you want to believe that an errant mathematical construct resides there well and good, I prefer to look to the physical realm for my explanations.
You are incorrect davesmith_au. Der it contradicts conservation law and the laws of physics. I believe String theory is sci fi, but quantum theory certainly is not. the sci fi comes in from the attempts to unify relativity and quantum mechanics. Not in relativity or quantum mechanics. These are both well tested and well proven.
As for black holes, there is one at the centre of the milky way, you do realise this?
In fact, the most intelligent input came from the audience, particularly the first questioner around 50 minutes in, who observed that "... quantum theory really completely contradicts conservation law", and also asked "Isn't it about time that cosmologists and astonomers dump the fallacious concept of black holes?"
At least someone is still capable of thinking for themselves.
I assume its possible to know about the intricacies of quantum theory and still not understand it. Perhaps that was his point. But really, irrelevant to the overall discussion to which i give a thumbs up.
My initial reaction was to agree with the other commentators that the host is annoying, but I decided to watch some of the program before really forming an opinion. Having done so, I'd have to say that my initial reaction was accurate. I, too, am uncertain as to whether or not if he is joking when he claims not to understand the topics being discussed. It seems unlikely, given that he's the director of an observatory, but it's possible.
Otherwise, this is an excellent show.