Those who visited Tulsa City Hall on Friday learned how quantum mechanics created the modern world of technology, but the world is a tiny speck in the universe.
Renowned physicist and mathematician Brian Greene gave a master class on the theories of time and space using similar metaphors, animation and history. He directs Columbia University’s Center for Theoretical Physics, but is better known for his four best-selling books, his social media training videos, and his work on science apps like Nova. He has made cameos in entertainment, including starring in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
The latest scientific breakthrough allows researchers to measure cosmic ripples left by black holes and other cosmic oddities. Now is a chance for scientists to hear the remnants of the Big Bang event, thought to be the birth of the universe, 13.8 billion years ago, Greene said.
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This discovery followed an evolution in scientific understanding beginning in 1687. from Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravitation to Albert Einstein’s significant advances in his theories of relativity, the photoelectric effect, and other works.
“That’s the power of math,” Greene said.
Einstein contested the validity of quantum theory with physicist Niels Bohr. A theory is a science at the micro level (molecules, atoms) that states that the world is governed mostly by probabilities.
“Over the decades, our understanding of the micro-world has become more precise and more precise,” Greene said.
Using that knowledge led to our modern world of electronics, Greene said. The theory proved true, and Einstein eventually incorporated quantum theory into his work.
In billions of years, Earth’s future seems to be like that of stars: turning into black holes or collapsing due to lack of energy, Greene said. He didn’t say it like a criminal.
Particles formed on this Earth to create a humanity of knowledge and beauty, from art to science, Greene said.
“It leaves me with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation,” he said.
Before the lecture, Greene spoke to Tulsa-area high school students about questions about string theory, quantum physics and the possibility of multiple universes.
When asked about his academic influences growing up, the Booker T. Washington High School student jokingly inquired about his AP science exam scores.
“I did great,” Green replied.
He then explained how by the sixth grade in public schools, his curiosity about science exceeded his availability. A graduate student in mathematics at Columbia University volunteered to tutor him once a month while he graduated.
“He took me on a math odyssey that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” Greene said. “It’s all about the teachers; teachers are the most important people who inspire the next generation.
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