Friday, February 05, 2010


A couple of months ago I became aware of a website called where you can set up an account and people can ask you questions anonymously if they wish. Someone suggested I give it a try, and since I am a total internet attention whore I did.( At first the questions came in slowly, and were fairly mundane, but I did my best to answer them in as smart-assed a way as I could. Soon I was getting tens of questions a day and I did my best to keep the answers at the very least weird, and hopefully entertaining. You can check them out if you wish, ask a question if you want, or don't, it's all good. But tonight someone asked me "Why? WHY?" and I'm rather proud of my answer so I thought I'd share it with you.

Because approximately 15 billion years ago something, maybe two branes colliding, caused an explosion of matter and an expansion of what we call the universe. Particles were created in this unimaginable furnace and raced at speeds in excess of the current speed of light to fill the rapidly spreading void. Soon, by cosmic standards, the heat dissipated to the point where gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces took hold and the mist of particles began to coalesce into the structures we now call planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae, seahorses, artichokes, internal combustion engines, and ultimately, this website. And that, despite what a series of pleasant but fictitious books will tell you, is about as close to why as you're ever likely to get.

Sleep well, kiddies.

Marius, out!


rosebuckle said...

What are "branes"? ;)

Marius said...

In theoretical physics, a membrane, brane, or p-brane is a spatially extended mathematical concept that appears in string theory and its relatives (M-theory and brane cosmology) that exists in a static number of dimensions.

The variable p refers to the number of spatial dimensions of the brane. That is, a 0-brane is a zero-dimensional pointlike particle, a 1-brane is a string, that can either be open or closed, a 2-brane is a "membrane", etc. Every p-brane sweeps out a (p+1)-dimensional world volume as it propagates through spacetime.

And before you get impressed, I have only the barest understanding of this concept. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the kid understood every word of that, but it's all Greek to me!