The Universe in the Rearview Mirror

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Physicist Dave Goldberg explains symmetry in physics, and tells the story of a holocaust escapee named Emmy Noether whose theorem relating conservation laws to symmetries is widely regarded to be as important as Einstein’s notion of the speed of light. But because she was a woman, she was unrecognized, even unpaid, throughout most of her career. In The Universe in the Rearview Mirror Goldberg makes science comprehensible, relatable, and gripping. 


Dave Goldberg

Comments [18]


Amy, a matter--antimatter annihilation would be way more efficient than a nuclear reaction. A nuclear reaction frees up as energy the small mass difference between the parent nucleus and the daughter nuclei (in the case of fission; in the case of fusion it would be the difference between the masses of the reactant nuclei and the product nucleus). That is: a fraction of the mass of the involved nuclei is turned into energy. Annihilation of matter and antimatter turns all the involved mass into energy. 100%.

Aug. 20 2013 02:14 PM
Amy from Manhattan

1st, Sredni, sorry for misspelling your name. 2nd, usually in the comics it's about humans gaining the proportionate strength of an insect or arachnid w/out any change in their size or, perhaps more important, their mass. A more relevant example is probably The Atom.

Aug. 20 2013 02:04 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Meanwhile Emmy Noether probably died young (cancer?) due to the stress of her oppression and alienation...

Aug. 20 2013 02:03 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Up to now, when I've heard about teleporting particles, it's really been about teleporting the *state* of 1 particle to another & then destroying the original (or destroying it in the process?). I don't consider that the same thing as teleporting the actual original particle.

Aug. 20 2013 01:59 PM
Mike from Tribeca

Another silly sci-fi film trope is the spaceship flying into an asteroid belt and the asteroids are only ten or twenty feet away from each other (as well as always traveling towards the spaceship). Space is VAST, Hollywood!

Sredni Vashtar: perhaps the guest was thinking of Shelob in "The Return of The King," though come to think of it she was much larger than a hobbit.

Aug. 20 2013 01:49 PM
Amy from Manhattan

1. So Prof. Goldberg is saying we ain't seen nothing yet?

2. Sredna Vashtar, I think he was thinking of Ant-Man.

Aug. 20 2013 01:48 PM
Amy from Manhattan

From Prof. Goldberg's description, it sounds as if a matter-antimatter reaction would produce as much energy as a nuclear reaction involving the same total amount of mass.
Is that right?

Aug. 20 2013 01:41 PM
Sheldon from brooklyn

So how did dinosaurs exist, with such huge masses?

Aug. 20 2013 01:41 PM
Sredni Vashtar from the Shed Out Back

Spider-Man, AFAIK, has nothing to do w/ human-sized spiders. Peter Parker, IIRC, was bitten by a normal-sized but radioactive spider, and he himself remained human-sized and human-looking.

Aug. 20 2013 01:39 PM

There should be lots of antimatter in any room... Antineutrinos are streaming through you at all times at a flux of probably 1 per square centimeter per second!

Aug. 20 2013 01:39 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Ellipses *are* symmetric--but only along 2 axes. Circles are symmetric along axes in any direction in their plane.

Aug. 20 2013 01:38 PM
Sheldon from brooklyn

Matter vs anti-matter. So are those 19 century Kantian arguments between materialism and idealism gone for good?

Aug. 20 2013 01:37 PM
Tony from Canarsie

Daniel from Munich-- thanks for the info. There I go again, assuming I knew everything! I'll definitely read the book.

Aug. 20 2013 01:34 PM
Daniel from Munich

Tony, as a particle physicist working in symmetry (CP violation) --- I can say that Noether's theorem is as revolutionary as Einstein's. Symmetry groups are the language of particle physics, and this is due to her work. This is not an exaggeration.

Aug. 20 2013 01:27 PM
Tony from Canarsie

How silly that so far the comments on this page concern a poorly researched paragraph of copy and not about the accomplishments of this brilliant mathematician.

And speaking of poorly researched copy, during a promo for this segment this morning Brian Lerher called Ms. Noether the equal of Albert Einstein. As brilliant and influential as she was, Einstein's special theory of relativity completely changed the way we think about the universe.

Aug. 20 2013 01:13 PM

This is turning into The Holocaust in the Rearview Mirror.

Interestingly, she died in 1935 - before the murders took place.

However, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, she would still qualify as holocaust survivor because the museum claims that the Holocaust started when Nazis came to power, even as their policy toward Jews at the time was that of expulsion.

But holocaust escapee?! It is Holocaust industry at it's best!

Aug. 20 2013 12:35 PM
John A from up state

I've been introduced to a second generation holocaust survivor. I didn't know there was a second generation holocaust.? :)
A famous problem, in communicating with distant strangers, and for the guest to describe, is how to have strangers be able to find the left from the right direction.

Aug. 20 2013 11:57 AM

"holocaust escapee"? This sounds like someone who escaped from a concentration camp. She didn't because she was never in a concentration camp to begin with. She and her family were smart enough to get out of Germany in 1932 when the Nazis came to power.

Aug. 20 2013 11:17 AM

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