The ‘music of the spheres’ was born from the effort to use numbers to explain the universe
By Tom Siegfried, Contributing Correspondent, May 9, 2023 at 7:00 am
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “the music of the spheres,” your first thought probably wasn’t about mathematics.
But in its historical origin, the music of the spheres actually was all about math. In fact, that phrase represents a watershed in the history of math’s relationship with science.
In its earliest forms, as practiced in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, math was mainly a practical tool for facilitating human interactions. Math was important for calculating the area of a farmer’s field, for keeping track of workers’ wages, for specifying the right amount of ingredients when making bread or beer. Nobody used math to investigate the nature of physical reality.
President Joe Biden unveiled this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, known as Webb’s First Deep Field, during a White House event Monday, July 11.
Webb’s image covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground – and reveals thousands of galaxies in a tiny sliver of vast universe.
Webb’s sharp near-infrared view brought out faint structures in extremely distant galaxies, offering the most detailed view of the early universe to date. NASA and its partners will release the full series of Webb’s first full-color images and data, known as spectra, Tuesday, July 12, during a live NASA TV broadcast.
A bell-shaped funnel with grid lines on it and ‘Big Bang’ written at the narrow end.
Imagine time running backwards. People would grow younger instead of older and, after a long life of gradual rejuvenation – unlearning everything they know – they would end as a twinkle in their parents’ eyes.
That’s time as represented in a novel by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick but, surprisingly, time’s direction is also an issue that cosmologists are grappling with.
While we take for granted that time has a given direction, physicists don’t: most natural laws are “time reversible” which means they would work just as well if time was defined as running backwards. So why does time always move forward? And will it always do so?