Tag Archives: nobel

An Astrophysicist’s Take on the End of the Mayan Calendar

The end of the world is nigh. At least, that’s what some people think will happen when the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. But Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist George Smoot has an entirely different take, one that honors the remarkable precision of the ancient Mayan astronomers and keeps our planet far from imminent disaster.

In “Mayan Cosmology Ends: Precision Cosmology Progresses,” a public talk delivered in front of the Great Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza, the Berkeley Lab scientist discusses what the Mayans achieved solely with the naked eye and comments on the significance of the approaching end of the current World Age of the 5,000-year-long Mayan Long-Count Calendar.

No, the end of the world is not at hand, Smoot says, but it’s true that we’re undergoing a fantastic transition in cosmology. The Mayan view of the universe was based on the sun and moon, a handful of planets, and a couple of thousand stars. Ours is an evolving cosmos reaching back over 13 billion years, based on a cornucopia of data accumulating almost daily and including hundreds of billions of galaxies.

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Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Explores Dark Energy on UCTV

It’s hard to wrap your mind around the idea of an ever-expanding universe. But that’s what this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics did back in 1998. Using the best tools and minds that science has to offer, two distinct teams of scientists, one led by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and University of California Berkeley Professor Saul Perlmutter, arrived at the same conclusion — that the universe is not only expanding, it’s accelerating.

In addition to Professor Perlmutter at the Supernova Cosmology Project, the other half of this prestigious prize was awarded jointly to Brian P. Schmidt at Australian National University and Adam G. Riess at Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute. You can find the official announcement from the Nobel Prize organization here.

In January 2010, UCTV premiered a program from Lawrence Berkeley Lab featuring Saul Perlmutter, along with his colleagues Alexie Leauthaud of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics and David Schlegel of Baryon Oscillation Spectroscope Survey, in a public conversation about the suspected cause of the universe’s accelerated expansion, dark energy, an elusive force that remains science’s biggest unsolved mystery. You can watch the program or download and audio or video podcast file here:

Dark Secrets: What Science Tells Us About the Hidden Universe

Want to know more? Check out these related programs:

Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe

Millennium Lecture: Dark Matter And the Ultimate Fate of the Universe

Atoms to X-rays: The Mystery of Empty Space: Higgs Bosons, Vacuum Energy and Extra Dimensions

More programs in Astrophysics, Cosmology, Astronomy and Space Sciences

Congratulations Professor Perlmutter and all the Nobel Prize winners! You can find more Nobel Laureates on UCTV here.

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One Last Look Back


Well, here we are at the tail end of our yearlong 10th anniversary celebration and we hope you’ve had as much fun exploring our archives as we have. In case you missed it, here’s what we covered each month:





January – Nobel Prize Winners
February – Black History Month
March – Regarding Religion
April – National Poetry Month
May – Exploring Astronomy
June – Journalism in Flux
July – Innovators and Entrepreneurs
August – All Things Green
September – Education: K – You
October – Women’s Health
November – Indulge in the Arts

…..and in December, Best of the Decade, featuring the most popular programs of UCTV’s first ten years.

Would you have predicted that a 70-minute performance of “Carmina Burana” would be our most popular program of all time with over 3.5 million downloads? What about Dr. Robert Lustig’s takedown of high fructose corn syrup, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which tops our health programs at 1.1 million downloads? Then there’s the UCLA “Darwin Evolving” series about evolution that captured our top science spot, and Cisco’s John Morgridge sharing his insights on “Ethics and Leadership” in our business category.

Not all that surprising was Elizabeth Warren’s 2007 talk, The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards, and a Shrinking Safety Net, which took the top public affairs slot — and seems to grow more relevant with every passing month.

And last, but certainly not least, is the always enjoyable Douglas Adams’ talk “Parrots, the Universe and Everything,” recorded shortly before his death in 2001, in which the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” shares hilarious accounts of some of the apparently absurd lifestyles of the world’s creatures, and gleans from them extraordinary perceptions about the future of humanity. With almost half a million views, the 90-minute program tops our humanities category.

There are plenty more popular programs to discover at our Best of the Decade page, so hop on over and see what else might surprise you.

Thanks to all of our viewers, who find our programming on their TVs, computers or mobile media devices, for being a part of our momentous celebration. We promise that our next decade, starting in January, will be even brighter!

Happy Holidays to all!

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Wrap Your Head Around ‘Nano’

UCTV's "When Things Get Small" explores the wacky world of nano

This morning the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to two University of Manchester researchers, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who created a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. Sounds cool but…..why?

It’s hard to grasp the purpose of this kind of groundbreaking research if you can’t envision the incredible “smallness” of scale we’re talking about. Heck, you can’t even see it with the naked eye!

Nevertheless, nanoscience is where we’re headed, and it could very well move us leaps ahead in health care, computing and the creation of new energy sources — just to name a few.

So it’s probably time you wrapped your head around just how small ‘nano’ is–and have a little fun while you’re at it. Check out our program “When Things Get Small,” a wacky exploration of the nano world.

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