The Theory of (nearly) Everything

The Theory of (nearly) Everything

The Theory of (Nearly) Everything 2019

In this special issue, the editors of BBC Science Focus explain the fundamental concepts of science, and reveal the latest cutting-edge research that will change our world. IN THIS ISSUE… - The Universe's history and how it will end - Clear explanations of key scientific concepts - Science facts, stats and expert opinion - Stunning images of life on and off Earth

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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En este número

1 min.
the theory of (nearly) everything

EDITORIAL Editor Daniel Bennett Managing editor Alice Lipscombe-Southwell Production editor Robert Banino Commissioning editor Jason Goodyer Staff writer James Lloyd Editorial assistant Amy Barrett Online editor Alexander McNamara Online assistant Sara Rigby ART & PICTURES Art editor Joe Eden Deputy art editor Steve Boswell Designer Jenny Price Picture editor James Cutmore PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS Press officer Carolyn Wray carolyn.wray@immediate.co.uk PRODUCTION Production director Sarah Powell Production co-ordinator Katty Skardon Reprographics Tony Hunt, Chris Sutch PUBLISHING Commercial director Jemima Dixon Content director Dave Musgrove Publishing director Andy Healy Managing director Andy Marshall BBC STUDIOS, UK PUBLISHING Chair, editorial review boards Nicholas Brett Director of consumer products and publishing Andrew Moultrie Head of publishing Mandy Thwaites UK Publishing coordinator Eva Abramik Contact UK.Publishing@bbc.com www.bbcstudios.com CIRCULATION / ADVERTISING Circulation manager Rob Brock…

1 min.
two simple questions

Humans are curious animals. Curious in terms of our behaviour, certainly but more importantly, we’re curious by nature. We have a deep-seated need to discover new things and understand why the things we discover are the way they are. It’s this curiosity that brought us down from the trees and led us up into space, and at the heart of it are two simple questions. Questions that, despite the best attempts of our brightest minds, we still can’t quite answer. Where did we come from? And where are we going? Science has brought us closer than anything else to getting viable, and verifiable, answers to those questions. But we’re still a long way from having the full story and so the search for answers continues. That search is not in vain,…

12 min.
the story of the universe

The year 2009 could go down in the astronomical textbooks as the one when a revolution in our understanding of the Universe began. The protagonist at the centre of this upheaval was not a person but a machine: a space probe called Planck. Named after the great German physicist Max Planck, the spacecraft was launched by the European Space Agency that year and was tasked with detecting the ‘blueprint’ of the Universe – capturing a snapshot of the seeds of the stars and galaxies that surround us today. Prior to its launch, cosmologists had spent over a century constructing mathematical theories to describe the story of the Universe, from the earliest moments to the present day. But analysis of the data returned by Planck has revealed a number of plot holes…

1 min.
the key experiment

The Horn Antenna at Crawford Hill in New Jersey was built for use with satellites, so the shape of it was designed to minimise interference from the ground and provide the best possible measurement of the strength of radio noise from the sky. The nature of this radiation depends on the temperature of the radiating object. The amplifiers used in the receiver were cooled to 4.2 Kelvin (-268.8°C) using liquid helium, and Penzias devised a ‘cold load’, cooled by liquid helium to about 5 Kelvin, which was used to calibrate the system. By switching the antenna from observations of the cold load to observations of the sky, they could measure the apparent temperature of the Universe (expected to be 0 Kelvin), then subtract out known factors, such as the interference from the…

1 min.

1929 Edwin Hubble discovers the distance of a galaxy from us is directly proportional to the velocity implied by its redshift. Georges Lemaître had published this in 1927, but nobody had noticed. 1931 Lemaître writes: “We could conceive the beginning of the Universe in the form of a unique atom, the atomic weight of which is the total mass of the Universe.” 1948 Ralph Alpher (left) and Robert Herman calculate that the leftover radiation from the primeval fireball should still fill the Universe today, with a temperature of about 5 Kelvin (-268°C). 1964 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discover a weak hiss of radio noise coming from all directions in space. The following year, this is explained as the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. 1989 Launch of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which detected tiny irregularities (ripples)…

1 min.
need to know

COSMOLOGICAL REDSHIFT A stretching of light, or other electromagnetic radiation, caused by the stretching of space between the galaxies as a result of the expansion of the Universe. This is not a Doppler effect, because it does not involve motion through space, but is measured in units of velocity. The cosmic background radiation is light from the Big Bang with a redshift of 1,000. HUBBLE’S LAW Actually first proposed by Georges Lemaître, the law says that the redshift ‘velocity’ of a galaxy is proportional to its distance. So a galaxy twice as far away is receding twice as fast, and so on. This does not mean we are at the centre of the Universe, however. The law works the same way whichever galaxy you observe from. MICROWAVES Microwaves are radio waves with wavelengths in the…