Prof Brian Cox & Robin Ince live in Auckland

Last night I went to Prof Brian Cox’s lecture at the Aotea centre. I had some predictions about what he would include in the talk; light speed as a universal constant, ‘red shift’ and the expanding universe, the moons in our solar system with water that could potentially hold life, and the new LIGO discovery that I wrote about in my last post – very exciting!

The Aotea theatre stage was completely covered in a huge hi-def screen that he used to show photos and video of various cosmological events and to explain some of the more important theories and the relevant equations. Although I would say most of the audience there were not scientists, just enthusiastic amateurs like myself and my friends, he didn’t dumb things down too much like often happens with TV series, so I felt engrossed for the whole 2.5 hours.

My favourite visuals were the Cassini images of the moon Enceldus, the video of Mercury’s transit across the face of the sun (I’d seen this before but it was incredible on the giant screen), the real data visualisation fly-through of all detectable galaxies and the computer simulation of two black holes converging (data also captured by LIGO). I’ve linked to the video below on the LIGO YouTube page, it’s fascinating how spacetime around the holes is warped and stretched as they merge. The event horizon is shown as the thin edge of light before total blackness.
Black Holes Merge video

(While I was hunting around for videos of the Mercury transit this morning, I kept coming across videos from flat-earthers ‘debunking NASA’. I find the whole thing fascinating! I still can’t quite get to grips with what they feel is to be gained by NASA pretending to the world that the earth is a sphere orbiting the sun? So curious.)

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