15 March 2008

Cosmology on bloggingheads.tv

I'm watching a fascinating video on bloggingheads.tv in which Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance and John Horgan talk about modern comsology. An interesting point from my point of view is that the basic reason modern cosmology exists is because the idea of maximum likelihood doesn't seem to apply to the universe -- probabilistically the universe "shouldn't be" like it is. But it is! From an epistemological point of view that's why explaining the way the universe is is interesting -- you don't expect, for example, large-scale homogeneity and isotropy, but it's there!

(Also, bloggingheads has a feature by which you can speed up videos by a factor of 1.4, without the expected raise in pitch of the sound by a tritone. This is nice, because when listening to recorded speech I often find it to be too slow. That's fine -- I don't insist that people should speak faster -- but I can take in information faster than an extemporaneous speaker can produce it.)

Nothing particularly new if you know something about these things, but a good way to spend 47 (sped-up) or 66 (normal-speed) minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

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