The Universe is So Simple, So Puzzling

Convergence opening panel looks at the big, the small, and everything in between. 

The universe is confoundingly simple, but understanding it is nowhere near easy. From the smallest to the grandest scales, physics stands at a crossroads.
 
At the opening panel of Convergence on Monday morning, leading thinkers gave a glimpse into their slices of the scientific realm.
 
Cosmologist Paul Steinhardt said science is still searching for a “good story” that pulls together black holes, dark matter, and dark energy.
 
“When we look out at the universe, we find it is extraordinarily uniform. That’s wonderful for theoretical physicists, because it gives us hope that we can actually explain something. If it’s simple, it demands a simple explanation,” he said. “What we can hope for is that we’re near a revolution and can find a coherent explanation.”
 
At the other end of the spectrum, particle physicist Natalia Toro said the smallest scales “overwhelmingly tell us we need to be asking more questions.”
 
From dark matter to the Standard Model, theory and experiment are butting up against unknowns. The path ahead promises to be rich, and demands a new wave of exploratory experiments.
 
That doesn’t mean theory takes a back seat. “Exploratory experiments that are practical and relevant are much harder to come by now,” Toro said. “This is where theory and experiment working together form a formidable team.”
 
And between the two, on the “human scale,” Matthew Fisher says quantum computing might already exist in the capacity of the human brain.
 
“Evolution has had 2.5 billion years to become absolutely expert at manipulating things on the nanoscale. I’d like to know if our brain is a quantum computer... that uses 'spooky action at a distance,' that uses quantum entanglement."
 
-Tenille Bonoguore

"What we can hope for is that we’re near a revolution and can find a coherent explanation.”

- Paul Steinhardt