Marina Cortês

Ticks of time: on Cosmology, Everest, and Ballet

Challenges of the 3d+1 manifold

Tim Palmer: Geometry of Chaos

This is a very positive post to congratulate Tim Palmer, who delivered an extraordinary lecture on “The geometry of chaos” at the Royal Institution (RI) in London, last Friday. Earlier this year Tim Palmer, a Royal Society Research Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Oxford, was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. I attended the lecture at the RI, and was very impressed by the expertise of Tim’s. 

On one hand, the ideas on the limits of reductionism, which Tim and I share (and led me to introduce the new scientific topic of biocosmology), might come to shed light on the current challenge of AI regulation.

On the other hand, it was an extraordinarily insightful, and carefully posed delivery of ideas by Tim. What is more, given that the level was outreach, it was simultaneously wide-reaching in multiple layers of technical expertise. Even experts came away with deep insights and food for thought. 

Now something like this is absolutely remarkable. I spend a lot (much too much) time bridging communities within physics, as well as outside physics, across to biology and philosophy. A bridging of communities requires an exquisite formulation of technical ideas so that they are understandable across extremely different expertises. I have to say it is incredibly rare to witness at outreach level. Well done, Tim!

A very interesting detail: if you click on it, the link specifies it is a “theatre-only event – the speaker and audience are together in our theatre”. (Italic is mine.) It is always helpful to know the going terminology for how one specifies being together in the 3d+1 sense. Believe me, you cannot go to your average reporter and say: will we be together in the 3d+1? Example:

Me: I will be there, for this event, it’s an online event, correct?

Reporter: Yes, yes, it’s online. You just have to be there one hour beforehand for lighting and sound tests.

Me: Light and sound tests? Are you sure it is an online meeting, will I have to be there in person? 

Reporter: Yes you have to be there in person, but it is an online event. 

Me (very confused): I am not quite sure I follow, let us start again. Will we be together in the same 3d+1 manifold coordinates?

Reporter: [silence]

Me: Well ok, I will be ‘present’, ‘on zoom’ one hour beforehand, for ‘light and sound tests’. I really hope we are understanding each other on the details of this event.

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