parallel universes: science and fiction

There’s an livechat transcript at the BBC with physicist/cosmologist Michio Kaku about superstring/M-theory that is loaded with gems. The man is a walking fount of physics aphorisms. His pronouncements almost have a Zen koan-quality to them. I’ve collected some of the better ones below.

we hope to find echoes from the tenth dimension.

dark matter may be a higher musical note on the string.

Boiling water is a purely quantum mechanical event.

Time is like a river. It bends and flows around the Universe.

the problem of consciousness in a quantum-theory is still an unresolved problem.

the forces of the universe can be viewed as ripples in hyper-space.

Our bodies are symphonies of vibrating strings and membranes.

the universe is a symphony of vibrating membranes and string.

we may have to escape into hyper-space if we are to survive the death of the Universe.

the farthest object in the universe would be the back of your head.

we do not find Fermat’s last theorem in string theory.

One theory says that the nearest bubble to our Universe maybe one millimetre away from us. This theory will be tested in Geneva in a few more years.

M-Theory unifies subatomic particles and universes.

The Greeks tried to prove 2000 years ago that hyper-space was impossible.

those experiments are not really necessary. Theory is enough.

the Universe is for free.

there are many solutions to M-Theory, one of which may be our Universe.

Some people have said that time does not exist, which confuses the perception of time with time as a co-ordinate.

Centuries from now, M-Theory, I feel, may eventually determine the destiny of all intelligent life in the Universe.

woah. Most of these make sense if you have even a layman’s understanding of the basics of string theory, but taken alone they have a surreal quality that I found irresistible. He’s obviously got a music bias, but I’m filing this under poetry.


Today is the first day of Spring.

Garrison Keillor has a poem for the occassion on today’s Writer’s Almanac (audio link), appropriately titled, “First Day of Spring”. As always, his reading on the air brings the poem alive in a way that mere reading online or in print can’t achieve.

And he throws in this great quote by Emily Dickinson, too boot:

A little Madness in the Spring / Is wholesome even for the King.

To Sleep

To Sleep

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,–
Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.

— John Keats, 1838