Can't Really Blame Them

By Sean Carroll | May 5, 2011 8:46 am

Very excited to learn that my talk from TEDxCaltech is featured on the TED home page today. They have their own comment thread, and in a couple of weeks we’ll have a live call-in “conversation with the speaker” deal. If the Twitters are to be believed, these TED talks are pretty darn popular.

The talk is a punchy, 15-minute version of my usual cosmology-and-the-arrow-of-time schtick. Glad to see the arrow of time get some more publicity; sophisticated Cosmic Variance readers know all about it, but not everyone is so lucky. When Brian Cox did an episode of Wonders of the Universe that discussed the arrow of time, the comments were all “Wow, what an amazing concept, never heard of that!” Obviously reading the wrong blogs.

But I can’t help but notice something about the presentation on the TED home page

Each talk is advertised by an image from the video; in most cases it’s a picture of the speaker actually giving the talk. But for mine, they (wisely) went with the Hubble Deep Field.

Lesson: you can’t compete with the universe! It’s bigger, smarter, and prettier, too.

  • Teresa

    Enjoyed the Ted talk, and yes, they are VERY popular so brace yourself!

  • Julie Marton

    Hah! They had to use the Hubble picture instead of yours because TED couldn’t figure out how to laminate their home page. : )

  • Matthew Saunders


    I hope universe is substantially appreciative at your being Her Spokescritter :)

  • Farhad Keyvan

    Thanks Sean for the talk. Never miss any of your talks and books. Why do you think the fundamental questions of why there is an arrow of time, and why entropy was so low at the beginning of our universe is not being addressed more by cosmologists? Also, are there insights into these questions from the point of view of the Holographic Principle?

  • Sean

    Farhad, thanks. I think the question is catching on among cosmologists, actually, even if a bit belatedly. The holographic principle might be very important, but we don’t understand it well enough yet to use it to construct appropriate dynamical models for real-world cosmology.

  • Bob

    Dr. C — at the beginning of your book, you ask rhetorically, (paraphrasing here), “How can we measure the speed of time? Can we say it’s 60 minutes per hour?” I’m wondering why you didn’t give the answer of Special Relativity that V(t) = C. Maybe it’s a dumb question after reading the book (which was great, BTW), but were you thinking that we should consider the velocity only in terms of entropy?

    Also, does string theory predict that 10 dimensions must be spacial and only 1 can be temporal, or is there room for more than 1 dimension of time? I’m wondering if an additional dimension of time can account for reversibility.

  • Mike

    The idea of the “multiverse” and its possibilities makes more than a lot of sense.

    For instance all of what we experience including the way matter expresses itself on the atomic scale, the technologies we have developed, and how efficiently we can physically traverse vast galactic distances are directly related to the spatial dimensions of the 3.1416 universe that we occupy.

    Our 3.1416 Universe reminds me of a clock that’s been sprung and needs to be repaired.

    So…what would conditions be like in a say a 2.8000 universe?

    Matter re-expressed on the atomic scale while still keeping its macroscopic appearance? And with this new technologies?

    And in the process of migrating, (wormhole) If a time compression occurred, then there’s a possibility that a spaceship traveling at a slower velocity (here) would appear to be moving many more times the speed of light (there) depending on the compression ratio.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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