It's easy to get downtrodden these days, what with climate change deniers, the apparent anti-science movement, and even somehow flat-Earthers.
But is there a silver lining to it all? Why yes, says Professor Brian Cox in an exclusive interview with IFLScience. There might just be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Cox was talking to IFLScience ahead of the publication of his book "Universal: A Guide To The Cosmos" in North America today, co-authored with Professor Jeff Forshaw. Among other things, the book discusses how to apply the scientific method to the world around you. Perhaps now, more than ever, it's something we all should learn.
So, the US release of your book "Universal: A Guide To The Cosmos" is today. What do you hope people get from it?
Basically its foundation is a cosmology book, but it has an underlying message that’s not particularly well buried about how we know things.
Obviously in today’s climate, where you have people talking nonsense on a daily basis, it’s important to understand how we can come to such remarkably high-precision conclusions about nature. And so the book is really about that."
If you were to write this book again in 50 years, what would you include?
I’d be interested to know whether inflation, which is a very big part of the book, is correct. If so, I’d be interested to know whether we’d made any progress as to whether eternal inflation is correct, which would essentially tell us that there are an infinite number of universes like our own. I’d [also] like to know whether there’s life beyond Earth. I’m pretty sure that we will advance on that in the affirmative in my lifetime.
What do you think is the biggest unanswered question in astronomy at the moment?
I think it’s the nature of dark energy. So, why the universe is accelerating in its expansion. Now of course it’s possible that those results, although I think it unlikely, are incorrect. That would be a wonderful thing to know as well. But I don’t think that’s true. I think there’s very good evidence that the universe is accelerating. And that then raises the question, what is it that is causing that accelerated expansion? That’s a huge, huge question.
Image in text credit: Michael Miller, Stocktrek Images/Getty Images, Alex Camlin