Rooty-toot-toot for Smoot!

28 03 2007

 ”You want your mind to be boggled,” Perlmutter says. ”That is a pleasure in and of itself. . .”

(see for my headline reference — Favorite Daughter thought of this to go with the science story and dug it up, from a 1931 Ogden Nash poem skewering the censorship of a politician named Charles Smoot, spelling the taunt rooti-ti-toot — I’ll take George instead, thanks! )

We’ll all be Kansas by and by . . .
but meantime what an AWESOME universe we can think about!

March 11, 2007
Out There

Richard Panek is the author of ”The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes.”

Three days after learning that he won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics, George Smoot was talking about the universe. Sitting across from him in his office at the University of California, Berkeley, was Saul Perlmutter, a fellow cosmologist and a probable future Nobelist in Physics himself. Bearded, booming, eyes pinwheeling from adrenaline and lack of sleep, Smoot leaned back in his chair. Perlmutter, onetime acolyte, longtime colleague, now heir apparent, leaned forward in his.

”Time and time again,” Smoot shouted, ”the universe has turned out to be really simple.”

Perlmutter nodded eagerly. ”It’s like, why are we able to understand the universe at our level?”

”Right. Exactly. It’s a universe for beginners! ‘The Universe for Dummies’!”

But as Smoot and Perlmutter know, it is also inarguably a universe for Nobelists, and one that in the past decade has become exponentially more complicated. Read the rest of this entry »