Legendary Oxford physicist David Deutsch is best known for his contributions to quantum physics, quantum computing, and a leading proponent of the multiverse (or “many worlds”) interpretation of quantum theory — the astounding idea that our universe is constantly spawning countless numbers of worlds.
In his book The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch laid the groundwork for an all-encompassing Theory of Everything by tying together four mutually supporting strands of reality: First: Hugh Everett’s many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, “the first and most important of the four strands”; second: Karl Popper’s epistemology, especially its requiring a realist interpretation of scientific theories, and its emphasis on being falsifiable; third: Alan Turing’s theory of computation, replaced by Deutsch’s universal quantum computer; and fourth: Richard Dawkins’neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory and the modern evolutionary synthesis.
“The quantum theory of parallel universes is not the problem, it is the solution. It is not some troublesome, optional interpretation emerging from arcane theoretical considerations,” says David Deutsch. “It is the explanation, the only one that is tenable, of a remarkable and counter-intuitive reality. Everything in our universe — including you and me, every atom and every galaxy — has counterparts in these other universes.”
“Our best theories are not only truer than common sense, they make more sense than common sense,” Deutsch wrote about the most mind-bending aspects of particle physics, including the tendency of matter to exist in more than one place at a time.
In the TED Conference video filmed at Oxford University, Deutsch will force you to reconsider your place in the world, and about our species’ significance in the universe. Far from being simply “chemical scum,” quoting Stephen Hawking, we have the ability to gain knowledge, the importance of which, he says, is that we are always equipped to solve problems (including global warming). The brain contains the tools we need: knowledge, reason and creativity. It’s a thrilling, and much needed, profoundly optimistic argument.
Along with Jupiter’s moon Europa, a tiny Saturnian moon, Enceladus, has become one of the most fascinating places in the solar system and a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life. Its outward appearance is that of a small, frozen orb, but it revealed some surprises when the Cassini spacecraft gave us our first ever close-up look at this little world – huge geysers of water vapour spewing from its south pole. The implications were thought-provoking: Enceladus, like Europa, may have an ocean of liquid water below the surface. Unlike Europa however, the water is apparently able to make it up to the surface via fissures, erupting out into space as giant plumes.
Now, a new project sponsored by the German Aerospace Center, Enceladus Explorer, was launched on February 22, 2012, in an attempt to answer the question of whether there could be life on (or rather, inside) Enceladus. The project lays the groundwork for a new, ambitious mission being proposed for some time in the future.
By observing the Moon using ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have found evidence of life in the Universe — on Earth. Finding life on our home planet may sound like a trivial observation, but the novel approach of an international team may lead to future discoveries of life elsewhere in the Universe.
“We used a trick called earthshine observation to look at the Earth as if it were an exoplanet,” says Michael Sterzik (ESO), lead author of the paper. “The Sun shines on the Earth and this light is reflected back to the surface of the Moon. The lunar surface acts as a giant mirror and reflects the Earth’s light back to us — and this is what we have observed with the VLT.”
The astronomers analyse the faint earthshine light to look for indicators, such as certain combinations of gases in Earth’s atmosphere , that are the telltale signs of organic life. This method establishes Earth as a benchmark for the future search for life on planets beyond our Solar System…
These are the four Galilean satellites. They are named so because they were the only four moons that Galileo was able to see. They are also the largest of Jupiter’s moons. From top-left in a clock-wise direction, they are Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io.
If Ganymede were not bound to Jupiter, it would be considered a planet in its own right. It is actually bigger than Mercury, being 390 km (234 miles) larger in diameter. It has heavily cratered dark regions, with lighter expanses in-between. Geologists think that it used to have plates, like the Earth, but they froze together soon after Ganymede’s birth.
Callisto, the outermost of the Galilean moons, is almost an exact twin of Mercury in size and appearance. Every square mile is covered with craters or other signs of bombardment. Other than that, there are no distinct characteristics
Europa, closer to Jupiter than Ganymede, is the smoothest natural body in the solar system. It resembles a billiard ball until seen very close-up. At that distance you can start to see dark, deep, and narrow cracks. In scale, though, the relief is no bigger than a line on a billiard ball made with a felt-tipped marker. Geologists think that Europa has liquid water underneath the icy surface - and possibly life.
Io, closer yet, is commonly compared to a pizza. Its volcanoes make it the most active world in the solar system. They spew out the sulfuric acid that gives Io its many colors. They also make Io one of the only three moons with an atmosphere in the solar system. Saturn’s Titan and Neptune’s Triton are the other two moons. Io is similar in size and composition to our moon. Io is caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between Jupiter and the other moons. Tension has melted the interior and raised the surface temperatures so high that scientists calculated that it generates the most heat for its size of any body in the solar system, except for the sun.