by Dr. Michael Friedlander
This semester, the Department of Physics and University College will again sponsor a series of lectures that will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings, starting April 6, in the Hughes Lecture Room, Room 201 in Crow Hall. Lectures will presented by faculty members of the Department of Physics and are tailored for the general public.
For information, please contact the Department of Physics at (314) 935-6276.
These lectures are free and open to the public; no registration is required.
Paradoxes in General
In thinking about science and mathematics we are sometimes led to a paradox; that is, a seemingly absurd or contradictory conclusion. Paradoxes are good because they force us to discover the defect in our reasoning, and when we resolve a paradoxical conclusion, we deepen our understanding of the natural world. In this talk we will examine many famous and fascinating paradoxes.
In 1814, the Marquis de Laplace gave the first published version of scientific determinism. Newton's laws, he said, allow us to calculate the future from our knowledge of the present. But many systems, such as the weather and financial markets, appear to have random, unpredictable behavior. How can our world be both deterministic and random? We'll explore the modern frontiers of mechanics, and what it tells us about our world.
Schrodinger and his cats
Can a cat be alive and dead at the same time? This is the paradox that Erwin Schrödinger described in 1935 as a way to poke fun at the way the new theory of quantum mechanics was being interpreted by its leading authority - Niels Bohr. Einstein congratulated Schrödinger because, like Schrödinger, he did not accept Bohr's interpretation and he was delighted with the cat.
Relativity and Collisions: Pole-vaulters and Barns
In 1905 Albert Einstein put forth his earth-shaking theory of Special Relativity that predicted many remarkable effects. These include length contraction (moving objects appear shorter than objects at rest) and time dilation (moving clocks tick slower than clocks at rest). In this lecture we will explore one of these paradoxes, "The Pole Vaulter and the Barn", and walk away with an explanation even Einstein could understand.
Olber's Paradox: why is the sky dark at night
Why is the sky dark at night? A silly question? No – not so silly. After more than 200 years, scientists still disagree about the possible causes of this easily-observed phenomenon.
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