Here are the presents I got, in no particular order or grouping:
The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
A black T-shirt
A small figurine of a dragon on a sword
Terry's Chocolate Orange
Gift voucher (I hate gift vouchers -.-)
No surprises I didn't go to church in the morning, instead I enjoyed Monty Python's Life of Brian. If you haven't watched it I highly advise that you do. It's got the best satire of religion I can think of, and some pretty good jokes about other stuff too. Then we went to my Aunts place for lunch, which wasn't too bad. I got bored near the end though. I know need to look after her house for about a week or so while she's away.
I've finished reading The Grand Design now. It's really interesting, and a lot shorter than A Brief History of Time, but still explains things well, or at least I got the idea of what they were saying. If anything it taught me to leave physics to the physicists now. Classical physics is fine but quantum physics is getting a bit beyond me. I should probably reread it but trying to grasp alternate histories, 11 dimensions and the present influencing the past is quite confusing.
On that note though (present influencing past) there was a paper (though not very well done so kinda iffy conclusions) which claimed to have scientific evidence for psychic powers. They showed that if people were shown the answers after they answered the questions they more likely to get the answer correct (obviously that's not exactly what they did). They found that well-supported but the study offers no mechanism, is too small and hasn't been repeated so is not strong enough to rewrite how the world works. Of course if you want to take every chance to do well feel free to study after your exams as well, it might help.
Back to The Grand Design, I wasn't very happy with the treatment of the anthropic principle. They talked about the difference between the strong and the weak anthropic principle (how conditions are right for us) but I didn't really see a difference between the two (and they did later say that the strong anthropic principle pretty much becomes the weak anthropic principle). Pretty much it's the answer to the pitiful argument for god that says the world is so well balanced for us it must have been done by god. The anthropic principle just points out the obvious that since we are here it's a pre-requisite that the world is perfectly balanced for us. It's not possible to be anything else.
Hawking and Mlodinow's big conclusion which made headlines was that the existence of the universe is an inevitable product of physical laws and there is no need for god. Although matter in the universe cannot spontaneously come into being (due to conservation of the amount of energy in the universe) entire universes can spontaneously come into being as gravity acts as a negative energy that counteracts the energy of the matter that does come into being. Kinda weird but yeah, entire universes can be spontaneously created without the need for any sort of god.
7 years, 9 months ago
27 Dec 2010 17:03 CET