In this week’s eSkeptic, we draw from the archives of Skeptic magazine issue 4.1 (from 1996) in which Bernard Leikind posits the ant-thropic principle: the principle that the Universe somehow exists for ants and that ants are an expression of its purpose.
The ordinary atoms that make up the known universe constitute only 5% of all matter and energy in the cosmos. The rest is known as dark matter and dark energy, because their precise identities are unknown. The Cosmic Cocktail is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science—what is the universe made of?—told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter, acclaimed University of Michigan theoretical physicist Katherine Freese.
Lump together literally everything contained in ultimate reality. Now call it all by the simple name “Something.” Why is there “Something” rather than “Nothing”? Is not Nothing, no world, simpler and easier than any world; is it not so that Nothing would have been the least arbitrary and “most natural” state of affairs? In this week’s eSkeptic, Robert Lawrence Kuhn explores the essence of Nothing, or what he calls “Levels of Nothing.” This article appeared in Skeptic magazine issue 18.2 (2013).
Scientists have just announced an historic discovery on a par with the splitting of the atom: the Higgs boson. The key to understanding why mass exists has been found. In this lecture, based on the book The Particle at the End of the Universe, Caltech physicist and acclaimed writer Sean Carroll takes you behind the scenes of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to meet the scientists and explain this landmark event.
Scientists are edging closer to providing logical and even potentially empirically testable hypotheses to account for the universe. In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer discusses 12 possible answers to the question of why there is something rather than nothing.
In this special dual lecture event, Venderbilt University astronomer David Weintraub explains how old the universe is and how we know in an enthusiastic way. Following that lecture, Dr. Shing-Tung Yau tells the story of “Calabi-Yau manifolds,” — one of the smallest things you can possibly imagine — six-dimensional geometric spaces that may be more than a trillion times smaller than an electron. They might also be one of the defining features of our universe!
WHEN AND HOW DID THE UNIVERSE BEGIN? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion — or does science offer another explanation? Don’t miss this lecture by Leonard Mlodinow.
We are now nearing a turning point in our quest for life in the universe — we now have the capacity to detect Earth-like planets around other stars. But will we find any? In The Crowded Universe, renowned astronomer Dr. Alan Boss — a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union — argues that based on what we already know about planetary systems, in the coming years we will find abundant Earths, including many that are indisputably alive. Life is not only possible elsewhere in the universe, Boss argues — it is common…
Carbon Comic, which appears in Skeptic magazine, is created by Kyle Sanders: a pilot and founder of Little Rock, Arkansas’ Skeptics in The Pub. He is also a cartoonist who authors Carbon Dating: a skeptical comic strip about science, pseudoscience, and relationships. It can be found at carboncomic.com.
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Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?
What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…