Time and Relative Dimensions in Space  

The entire universe in blog form
June 21 2014 7:30 AM

The Timey Wimey Spacey Wacey Explanation of Relativity

Daleks explain light speed
River Song's laser has an advantage over Captain Jack's gun when it comes to Daleks and space-time diagrams.

Photo by Tippet and Tsang, from the paper

Are you a Doctor Who fan? Are you also scratching your head over how relativity works? Then do I have a paper for you: “The Blue Box White Paper”, an explanation of how space and time work under the auspices of Einstein’s general relativity.

doctorwho_briancox

The paper was written by two physicists who are experts in the field.* It uses various ideas from Doctor Who (as well as pretty funny illustrations featuring companions in various states of peril) to delve into the bizarre notion that space and time are intertwined, how you could (theoretically) move back and forth in time, why that’s unlikely, and what might happen when you do.

Advertisement

It’s written clearly, aimed at an educated audience. I’ll admit I struggled with some of the more advanced concepts, but then, I tend to live my life in a linear, entropic manner. My experience in severely warped and/or punctured space-time is limited.

And because why not, if you want a longer and eminently readable description about relativity, the speed of light, and how the Universe works the way it does, I highly recommend Why Does E=mc2? by my friend Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. I had a far better understanding of all these things after reading it, and it’s really a brisk and enjoyable book.

And of course, there’s always this:

*Haha! “Field”! I kill me.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.