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Olbers' Paradox

2022

Staring out into the night sky, a very profound question can be asked:

Why does it get dark at night?

You might think that this is a rather trivial question. After all, even a child knows that night falls when the sun sets below the horizon, and that since there is nothing else in the night sky anywhere near as bright as the sun we have to make do with the feeble reflected light from the moon and the even more feeble light from the distant planets and stars.

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Higgs, shmiggs.. who cares?

2019

So, how do I feel about the Higgs discovery? Am I excited, indifferent or even just a little disappointed? Before CERN’s announcement on the4 July 2012, I had asked myself on many occasions whether I hoped the Higgs would be discovered or not. After all, if there were no such thing as the Higgs field or Higgs mechanisms that supposedly gave particles their mass, and hence no Higgs Boson (the particle that is no more than a brief condensation of Higgs field energy), then we would need to revise our theories of the subatomic world, and that would be pretty exciting. Well, it seems like that won’t be necessary (for now) because experiments have confirmed what theory predicted all along.

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Do we have free will - a physicist's perspective?

2019

This blog was prompted by an online article I was alerted to by Roger Highfield on Twitter, which discussed how neuroscientists were conducting experiments suggesting that free will is indeed just an illusion. Unfortunately, it was rather dismissive of the years (no, make that century) of philosophical debate that has seemingly not brought us any closer to an answer. Now, as a physicist I am usually at the front of the hard-nosed scientist queue when it comes to philosophy bashing. But on this issue, I am not so sure.

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Light and Dark, BBC4

2019

Last night, my new two-part documentary, Light and Dark, aired on BBC4. The man who deserves almost all the praise is director/producer, Stephen Cooter. He wrote most of the script and put the 120 minutes together into something special. It was produced in partnership with The Open University, and essentially explores how we have uncovered the secrets of our universe by using and manipulating light.

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Brian Cox on the Life Scientific

2019

After three years and, incredibly, 78 episodes, with guests including five Nobel Prize winners and some of the most famous and illustrious names in science, as well as picking up a VLV award earlier this year for the best radio programme, the Life Scientific returns for a new run. And I kick off with some Mancunian ex-pop star type bloke who likes gazing up at the sky.