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humorous convos, volume III

A couple days ago in quantum class...

prof: So, the only puzzling thing about this result for the vacuum energy is that the measured value is so incredibly close to zero.

me: but... isn't it greater than all the other energy and matter in the universe combined?

prof: Yes, that's correct.

me: huh?

prof: Like I said, approximately zero. But I suppose it depends on what you consider to be the natural scale of things.

Sometimes I'm not quite sure whether I'm learning from physicists, or zen masters.

Unrelated quick link: Human memory as a non-invertible function: Unconscious passwords through imprinting

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
geheimnisnacht
Jun. 13th, 2004 11:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, that was the best moment of the quarter for Dine's class (out of how much I attended at least, heh).

What effect would a high or low vacuum energy have? none?
spoonless
Jun. 13th, 2004 02:08 pm (UTC)
From what I understand: vacuum energy, dark energy, and the cosmological constant are all roughly equivalent or at least directly related. A higher value would cause the universe to accelerate even faster. If it were as high as they would expect from unit analysis, it would probably have ripped the whole thing apart moments after the big bang. Which is why some people (like Banks, from what I gathered at his talk on it) appeal to the anthropic principle to explain how small it is.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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