Tiny Things of Great Import

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The study of the smallest particles offers insight into the biggest event that ever was, the birth of the universe.


Cosmic Perspective from NOVA scienceNOW, July 10, 2007
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Neil deGrasse Tyson: And now for some final thoughts on subatomic particles.

We learn early in school that there is such a thing as atoms and that all of matter is composed of them. A little later, we learn that atoms--a word, by the way, from the Greek atomos, meaning indivisible--are themselves composed of even smaller particles, the familiar electrons, protons, and neutrons.
Under exotic conditions of high energy, like what's common at CERN and in other accelerators, particles wholly unfamiliar to everyday life pop into existence.

But what may be unfamiliar to us is common to the cosmos. Want to find the biggest accelerators of them all? They're out there in the universe: the million-degree cores of stars, the turbulent environments of massive black holes dining on gas clouds that wander too close, or the stupendously hot conditions during the big bang.

So while physicists probe ever higher energies to understand the fundamental building blocks of matter, those same experiments serve as a probe of what's going on across space and time.

There lies one of the most remarkable stories of modern science: how the study of the smallest constituents of matter offers deep insight to the biggest event there ever was, the birth of the universe itself.

And that is the Cosmic Perspective.

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33 Comments

I found a link to your blog on another blog, and I must say... Your site is a lot better. I understand it better now, thanks

Nice read. Thanks for the work you put in to this site.

It's my birthday too, except for last two digits. Nice show, fun learning. Thx.

I thought that it might have something to do with Avogrado's number (6.0221415 x 10 raised to the 23rd power).

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This was a great show and I appreciate everyone's comments. Thanks you, PBS.

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Thank you for engaging my interest and there in turn inspiring others.

I was thinking numerology which would make 6-23-1912 into 6-5-4 which is cool. Really it is when Turing was born. I think mine is cooler.. lol

patrick you gave a great expalanation thank you!! i had to research who mr Turing was to get an idea why it meant anything to the robots!tnx very precise.

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artificial inteligence

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June 23, 1912 This date is the birth date of Alan Turing who had something to do with machines talking to each other. This seems to fit pretty good with the TV spot with the two computers picking each other out on the dating show.

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Alan Turing was born. He developed the calculator and concidered to start computer sciences and artificial sciences.

It is birthday of Alan Mathison Turing. Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. That is the answer why this date was "The Perfect Date." Said by a computer.

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Just a guess E=MCsq. Albert Einstein

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Thank you. Not for the perfect date question but for your show and the fire it lights in in my imagination.

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The birth of Turing, the man that proposed that if a man ask a question to a machine on the other side of a curtain and he could not tell if the answer that came back was from man or machine then the machine had reached the level of human intelligence

I was going to try to figure out the answer to why June 23, 1912 is the perfect date without using anything but a calculator (just to save time, graphite, and paper) and without using the web. It took me about 5 minutes to give up, not finding anything mathematically. I determined if the date had nothing to do with prime numbers then there was no correct answer. I was right! Perfect was the wrong word to use in the riddle. I hope they do similar things in future shows though. It was fun for a little while.

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I was looking at the number for symmetry, the perfect polynomial with a clever variable, or just some pattern of primes, multiples, etc. Then, I realized, it's not Turning's birthday, it's Neil's.

Patrick -
Very nice explanation. Thank you.

The more complete reason June 23, 1912 is the PERFECT DATE is that the interviewing computer is performing a Turing Test to find her PERFECT DATE, namely, the other computer, which she must distinguish from the humans.

She chooses the interviewee that replies with Turing's birth date (June 23, 1912), because she and he are the only intelligences in the game for whom Turing's birth date is significant. By successfully participating in the game, they are proving they are intelligent.

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE , FRS, proposed a test of a machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence. Such a test can be used to distinguish a computer from a human assuming that the computer can not seem as intelligent as a human to a human.

The CAPTCHA assumes a computer cannot recognize purposefully distorted patterns that humans can recognize. If the pattern is recognized, it is assumed a human intelligence found the solution. There are people working to invalidate that assumption.

The answer re: why June 23, 1912 is the perfect date is at:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0401/04.html
Kind of lame, actually. I was hoping for an explanation that revealed something pure or perfect about those numbers. "Important" date is more like it.

The answer re: why June 23, 1912 is the perfect date is at:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0401/04.html
Kind of lame, actually. I was hoping for an explanation that revealed something pure or perfect about those numbers. "Important" date is more like it.

Our TV is always tuned to a PBS station. You offer so much more than the current wave of Commercial TV "reality" shows. And since he asked, we want to thank Neil deGrasse Tyson for his fine work on Nova scienceNow. The material is interesting and well researched and Mr. Tyson presents it with puckish good humor. Finally, we do contribute to PBS and NPR as well.

I really enjoyed Nova's Science Now. Each segment was interesting, presented in layman's terms (or maybe "layman +") concise but enough information to alow understanding. The host is very easy to listen to. It reminded me of the early days of CBS Sunday Morning before they changed about half of their segments to entertainment fluff. Gret job. And thanks to those who shed light on the date of June 23, 1912.

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Hello my friends...check out the link below for the answer.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0401/04.html

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Click on Nova science now the perfect date, and yes it states the date is important because of Alan Turing's birth. I found several very interesting articles on Turing when I did a Yahoo search on June 23, 1912.

My suspicion as to the perfect date is that it has something to do with the origin of the word "Robot" which was first used in a play by Karel Capek in his play Rossum's Universal Robots (1920), but Karel attributes the coining of the word to his brother Josef in a conversation they had earlier. Could June 23, 1912 have been the date the word was really created?

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I am also looking for the answer for the "perfect date, June 23, 1912 from tonights show (06/30/09). So where so I find the answer ???

I believe the answer is that Alan Mathison Turing was born on that date who is often considered to be the father of modern computer science.

June 23, 1912 was the day that Alan Turing was born.

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I could not find June 23, 1912 either. I want to see those robots make out..

I'm looking for the same thing. The perfect date. But i believe it was 6/23/1912

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So where do I find the answer for the "perfect date, 07/23/1912 as shown on the program airing 06/30/09? I looked on this website as advised and I can't seem to find anything.