Monday, November 3, 2008

Books and Ideas #23: Nobel Physicist, Frank Wilczek

Episode 23 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Frank Wilczek, PhD from MIT. Dr. Wilczek won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2004 and recently published an excellent book aimed at general readers: Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces. This book provides an excellent review of current ideas about the meaning of both matter and space.

In his interview Dr. Wilczek helps us understand the current evidence that matter is actually made of particles that are massless. He says “I jokingly say that the more important law is Einstein’s Second Law m=E/c² (which is of course just a rearrangement of E=mc²) but this suggests that what we really should be doing is not explaining energy in terms of mass, but explaining mass in terms of energy.”

The second surprisingly concept that Dr. Wilczek helps us tackle in this interview is the idea that space is not empty. “Space is a medium with a variety of properties that make it, not only an important component of reality, but really the primary component of reality.”

These ideas are supported by experimental evidence, but the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland is expected to expand knowledge even further. The purpose of the LHC is a main focus of this interview. Dr. Wilczek has agreed to come back on Books and Ideas to answer questions about dark matter and string theory.

Listen to Episode 23 of Books and Ideas

Click here for detail show note and links

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