Zoom, Zoom Universe

Bob Berman, author of the book "Zoom" and an editor at Astronomy magazine, will be on hand at IdeaFestival 2015.

From Brian Greene to Michio Kaku to Sean Carroll, the festival has a long history of bringing acclaimed physicists and science authors to the stage to describe why our universe is indeed stranger than fiction.

"Zoom" has been reviewed by the New York Times, which praises the author's "talent for toying productively with received reality."

Part of that received reality is the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't-nature of quantum physics, the science of the impossibly small. In an improbable twist, experimental physics can pinpoint the place or direction of these specks of matter, but never place and direction, simultaneously. Bell's theorem raises problems for our received notions of cause and effect, which depend on knowing the local variables that would determine any single outcome. Quantum experiments show us that we can't know the starting conditions. There is no context-independent starting point, no "cause" knowable by us.

This tension between perception and reality can be documented as far back as the Greek philosophers Paremenides and Zeno, who "toyed with reality" by arguing that our senses aren't reliable. Motion, they said, is an illusion. And Zeno cleverly created paradoxes to prove it. You've undoubtedly encountered his dichotomy paradox at some point in high school or college.

Motion is an illusion? Hardly. Everything moves Berman will point out at the IdeaFestival. Zoom, zoom.

Don't miss it.

Stay curious.