Alan Lightman

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de abril de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

The collision of two black holes, detected for the first time by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), is seen in this image from a computer simulation. (Handout/Reuters)

Like many homo sapiens on planet Earth, I was thrilled by this month’s announcement of the first direct detection of gravitational waves. This finding surely ranks with the greatest scientific discoveries of the past 200 years.

Nobody in the scientific community doubted the existence of gravitational waves. They are absolutely required by Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity and have been indirectly inferred from other astrophysical observations. The great achievement here was the construction of the most sensitive scientific instrument ever built — able to measure changes in distance a thousand times smaller than the nucleus of an atom.

We now have a new sense organ with which to fathom the cosmos.…  Seguir leyendo »

The tornadoes that have been devastating parts of the South and Midwest, just weeks after a deadly mudslide in Washington, demonstrate once again the unimaginable power of nature.

After each disaster, we grieve over the human lives lost, the innocent people drowned or crushed without warning as they slept in their beds, worked in their fields or sat at their office desks. We feel angry at the scientists and policy makers who didn’t foresee the impending calamity or, if forewarned, failed to protect us. Beyond the grieving and anger is a more subtle emotion. We feel betrayed. We feel betrayed by nature.…  Seguir leyendo »