Candid science VI: more conversations with famous scientists by ISTVAN HARGITTAI, MAGDOLNA HARGITTAI


Candid technological know-how VI concludes the sequence through narrating the conversations with recognized scientists from the biomedical sciences, chemistry, and physics. There are 31 Nobel laureates and eleven different luminaries between them. The scientists are within the box of biomedical sciences, chemistry and physics.

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One travels into space at a velocity close to that of light and the other remains on Earth. After fifty years (measured on Earth), the rocket returns. While the Earth-based twin has aged by fifty years, the travelling twin has aged by only ten or so years, because the speed of travel has slowed time down. ’ 69455B93-05D1-4CCB-A51C-CA433FAAEDF5 Opposite: In 1971, an atomic clock travelling on a very fast plane measured a slightly shorter time than an identical atomic clock left on the ground, verifying Einstein’s theory that time slows at high speeds 60 69455B93-05D1-4CCB-A51C-CA433FAAEDF5 Science | Of mass and energy I T was Einstein’s fourth paper of 1905 which gave the world the basis of his most famous equation and opened up the possibility of nuclear energy — and weapons.

69455B93-05D1-4CCB-A51C-CA433FAAEDF5 Above: The mapping of the electron density around a Helium atom shows the probability of an electron being in any place at a particular time, with blue the highest likelihood and red the lowest 46 | The nature of matter This makes matter discontinuous — some of it is matter and some of it is emptiness. Yet light acts like a continuous wave, with no gaps. Light can be derived from matter — heating an electric light filament, for example, produces light, as described by Max Planck.

This person sees one flash a fraction of a second before the other, since one beam of light is moving towards him or her and one is moving away — the light has different distances to travel, but its speed is the same. Einstein contends that the flashes are both simultaneous and not simultaneous and — counter to what common sense and intuition 69455B93-05D1-4CCB-A51C-CA433FAAEDF5 tell us — that this is all right in the realm of physics. 57 Science | Space-time ‘The ordinary adult never gives a thought to space-time problems… I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I did not begin to wonder about space and time until I was an adult.

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