Astro News
- Recent Updates of Astro News
- Active Mercury(07/09)
- Hubble Status Report: Directly Observes a Planet Orbiting Another Star(01/09)
- A Non-trivial Answer to a Trivial Astronomical Question-The Origin Of Absolute Magnitude(07/08)
- Assault by a Black Hole(04/08)
- New Lakes Discovered on Titan(01/08)
- :Deviant Behaviour; in the Solar System(10/07)
- Cosmic Ripples - Cosmic Microwave Background - CMB(07/07)
- Interplanetary Superhighway(04/07)
- Is Pluto a Planet?(01/07)
- Breathing Moonrocks(10/06)
- My Thoughts on the Theory of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Superstring Theory and Dark Matter(07/06)
- Space-time Vortex(04/06)
- Radio Astronomy(01/06)
- Neutrino Astronomy(10/05)
- The Active Earth(07/05)
- What is Dark Energy?(04/05)
- The Mysterious Black Holes(01/05)
- Intermediate-Mass Black Holes And Quasisoft X-Ray Sources(10/04)
- Time Travel: From a Scientific Approach(07/04)
- What is Astrobiology?(04/04)
- Black Hole: From Fantasy To Reality (II)(01/04)
- Black Hole: From Fantasy To Reality (I)(10/03)
- From The Oldest Light In The Universe To The Fate Of The Universe(7/03)
- The Cosmic HERO(4/03)
- Quaoar - the Tenth Member of the Solar System?(1/03)
- The First Chinese Telescope in Space(10/02)
- Diamonds and Other Stardust(7/02)
- Supermassive Black Hole in Andromeda Galaxy(4/02)
- Detection of Solar Neutrinos(1/02)
- Simultaneous Multiple Wavwlength Observation(10/01)
- Celestial Distance(7/01)
- Solar-Terrestrial Relations(7/00)
- Fundamental Particles in Astronomy(4/00)
- The Solar Maximum in 2000(1/00)
- Hubble Constant(10/99)
- New Findings on Cosmology(7/99)
- Strange Stars(4/99)
- How Strong Stellar Magnetic Field Can Be?(1/99)

Important notices

Sir Karl Popper is one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20 century who had a profound influence on the epistemology and methodology of science. His criticism on generalisation and his proposition on falsification are portrayal of some most important theories in physics of the century.

The successes of Newton・s Mechanics and the Law of Gravity have, for centuries, made mankind marvel at their own achievements and feel they are great in the universe. Countless experiments and experiences, from the fabulous fall of the apple to the orbiting of the Moon round the Earth, from carousel to space travel, all are bearing witness to the victory of Newton. But history tells us that the discovery of many great theories comes not from the smooth sailing of the current theories, but rather from their own irreparable flaws (for example, being incompatible with other theories). Let・s take a brief look at the intricate relationship among special and general theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, superstring theory and unified field theory using the two examples of light speed and space-time.

The speed of light is certainly fast. That is the main reason why Galileo failed in his experiment to measure it and why the first successful measurement had to make use of celestial objects (Jupiter and its satellites). Have you ever thought of grapping light (or photon) in your hand if you are faster than light! According to the Newton・s laws of motion, this is totally possible. Yet such a conclusion is incompatible with James Clerk Maxwell・s theory of electricity and magnetism. The problem is solved by Einstein, by his special theory of relativity. The concept that speed of light has a fixed value and is independent of the source of motion, and that nothing material can reach or surpass the speed of light has shocked the world in the beginning of the 20 century. Yet this epoch-making discovery causes another dilemma: it contradicts Newton・s law of gravity which implies that gravitational force is instantaneous, that is having infinite speed. Solution? By the one who raises the issue. By introducing general theory of relativity which suggests that gravitation is a pure geometric effect of curved space-time, Einstein has satisfactorily resolved the conflicts while at the same time revolutionized people・s understanding on space and time.

Quantum mechanics has been hailed as the most precise theory ever known among the many scientific achievements of mankind. Though the interpretation of quantum mechanics is still outstanding, the accuracy of its results and predictions are irrefutable. This can be demonstrated by the various kinds of electronic technologies around us.

Unfortunately, the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, the two brilliant achievements of mankind in the 20th century, stand in sharp contrast to one another, despite one is capable of describing the largest structure of the universe and the other explains the smallest structure of matter. And based on their present interpretation models, it is not possible that both are correct. From the unified field theory which Einstein endeavoured on for the second half of his life to the :theory of everything; relentlessly sought after by scientists nowadays, has the search gone into a dead end? The putting forward of the superstring theory was the dawn of hope for the deadlock. The theory not only reconciles the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, but also made them complementary to each other. Once again, our views on spacetime encountered a revolutionary change. Should this miraculous theory represents 21 century physics that fells accidentally into the 20 century, since it might not have been discovered for another century by the normal progression of science, or is it just like what Yang Zhen-ning believed: :not a real thing;?

In the domain of astronomy and physics, there have been many more :miraculous; theories similar to superstring. The new star in recent years is dark energy. Prof K S Cheng and his colleague of the Physics Department of the University of Hong Kong gave an incisive introduction on this subject in the 4-6/2005 issue of the Space Museum Newsletter (Astronomical Novelty - What is Dark Energy?). For the past few years, after flipping through and careful reading of astronomical and scientific journals and websites, my thought on dark energy is just like what Richard Feynman tried to explain to his colleagues in Caltech why boson had integer spins and fermion had half-integer spins. His final conclusion was: After all, we still do not know what this is all about! 

Nature is always so mysterious and interesting. To those of us who have a devotion to pondering and passion for the universe, astronomy has given us lots of inspiration. Most importantly, it enables us to realize how insignificant we are but not inferior, and how great mankind is but remains humble.