Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Big Lecture about the Big Bang

Took the opportunity to go to see a distinguished lecture by Roger Penrose, a famous physicist from Oxford. He gave a talk about the Big Bang, what could have happened before it, and what his new theory is. Basically, most physics people are sure there is nothing before the Big Bang because they define time in such a way that it didn't exist before the Big Bang, so the very word "before" is meaningless. He's old enough I guess that he's now spending his time challenging this assumption and he gave a pretty interesting talk about it. I followed about 95% of it, there were some surprising corrollaries to information theory that resonated with me. 

Really enjoyed it, although it raised a lot of questions about how meaningful computer science research is in the big picture. On one hand, we're not addressing as many fundamentally bizarre and imaginative concepts. On the other hand, nobody is really going to be affected one way or the other by the Big Bang. Interesting debate, one of the hazards of being at Cambridge.

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