Fire Up Your Virtual Realities

By Sean Carroll | October 5, 2011 9:22 am

To celebrate my birthday today, I’m heading back into Second Life to do a chat with Alan Boyle of fame. Alan has previewed some of the topics we’ll be discussing in a post at Cosmic Log. It’s possible the Nobel Prize will be mentioned. (The physics one. Don’t expect any insight from me on quasicrystals, except that they’re awesome.)

We’ll be chatting at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific, at the Stella Nova Theater. If you’re not already on Second Life, it’s super easy (and free) to join. (Here’s some very useful information for beginners.) And you get to design an avatar that looks like you would want to look, rather than your inevitably-disappointing real self.

The chat is part of the Virtually Speaking series hosted by FireDogLake, in this case co-produced with the Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics. Alan does a regular series of interviews on science, so you may get hooked. Our chat will be a multi-media extravaganza, so you can choose to listen in various ways:

Yes I know, very complicated. If simplicity is more your bag, here’s a guest video on dark energy that I did for the wonderful Minute Physics series.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal, Science and the Media
  • Naked Bunny with a Whip

    So it’s audio and text?

  • Sean

    It’s audio+visual if you are in Second Life, and at least audio (maybe also video?) if you just follow the podcast. The text is just for people to chat along the way, not a transcription.

  • Neville Gragson

    God wants us to see the awesome things that we have in Him. He wants the eyes of our heart and our understanding to be enlightened so that we might know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.

  • Javier H.M

    Neville, that made total sense. Eyes in hearts and all. Thanks for sharing your infinite(?) wisdom with us. Someday I want riches of glory or whatever, as long as I can sell it later for a reasonable price.

  • Allyson

    I forgot your birthday, Sean, but Neville has given me an excellent idea. Just now, I put my immortal soul in an envelope and will mail it right over. Seriously, I can’t think of a nicer person to send my soul off to.

    If it doesn’t fit, you can exchange it for one (1) dozen Dots cupcakes if you prefer.

  • Iñigo

    Dear Sir, I have recently read your ideas about a very distant new big bang for our Universe. I have to admit that the last ideas about a future vast frozen Universe or the posibility of a big rip make me feel dizzy… It is a stupid feeling, of course: life is too short to even consider these kinds of things. Anyway, as Woody Allen on Annie Hall, the image of a vast infinite Universe, eternally frozen and alone makes me feel confused about the real meaning of this hilarious life. Maybe the capacity you physicists have to at least try to understand the existence is the last meaning of an intelligent civilization… But I am digressing. The fact of having you the opinion of a very distant new big bang gives me the posibility to believe again that the life and the existence of all has a meaning. And that, probably, who knows?, in an unimaginable distant point I will be posting this again, living again my life and trying to believe that a future image of myself will be trying to do his best to make the existence at least a little bit better… Maybe… The idea that, as Mr Steve Jobs said once, we have the obligation not to waste our so short life.

    Even me, a nonbeliever in religion, can´t avoid the suggestive idea of a Universe as a new genesis: Genesis 1.2: Y la Tierra estaba desordenada y vacía, y las tinieblas estaban sobre la faz del abismo, y el Espíritu de Dios se movía sobre la faz de las aguas…

    Please forgive this so stupid post, and my very poor English, which I try to improve by studying it as far as I can.

  • Iñigo

    PS: Happy birthday, Mr Carroll.

  • Isaac D.

    Happy Birthday!

  • uncleMonty

    Dear Sean, about the accelerating universe: I have understood that even though the expansion is accelerating, the Hubble factor is decreasing (as it takes longer and longer for a doubling in scale to occur). So I am trying to imagine the graph of the speed of recession of objects that are at some specified large distance, as a function of the age of the universe, and clearly that function is sloping upwards but it must have negative curvature. My question is: is it known whether the asymptote is horizontal (i.e. the acceleration will get less and less until it is practically zero, and expansion will continue at a maximum, but roughly constant, rate) or does it have a positive slope (i.e. the acceleration will get less and less, slowly tending towards some positive value, and expansion will continue accelerating practically constantly)?
    I hope the question makes sense. If the answer is the former, can we estimate what the Hubble constant will top out at? If the latter, can we estimate the final asymptotic slope of the Hubble constant as a function of the age of the universe?
    And happy birthday, and thanks for all the great posts.

  • Rhys

    Simplicity must be my bag…
    The short video on dark energy is very good; I think it did a better job of explaining the idea than some lengthy science documentaries have.

    Also, this is a rewarding comments thread so far: one mentally unstable Christian, and two of my favourite fictional characters of all time, in Inigo Montoya (okay, so it’s probably not him) and Uncle Monty. In case you have missed out on either “The Princess Bride” or “Withnail and I”, this should whet your appetite:

  • Phillip Helbig

    @#9 Let me point out again that while the observations determining what cosmological model describes our universe are new, what will happen in each case has been known for a long time.

    If the universe is expanding now, and the cosmological constant is positive, and the density parameter is not too large (we are pretty sure that all three are the case; we don’t know if the spatial curvature is positive, negative or zero, but that doesn’t matter in this context), then the universe becomes more and more like the de Sitter universe with time, in which the scale factor increases exponentially as a function of time and (as an obvious consequence) the Hubble constant does not change with time.

  • Bob Flisser

    Happy belated birthday!


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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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