位置:博客 > 返朴 > 诺奖得主Wilczek:今年的诺贝尔物理学奖意义深远


撰文 | Frank Wilczek (麻省理工学院教授、2004年诺贝尔奖得主)
翻译 | 胡风、梁丁当
Prize-winning research shows how the universe evolved from its uniform beginnings to the complexity we observe today.
2019年的诺贝尔物理学奖颁给了詹姆斯·皮布尔斯 (James Peebles)、米歇尔·马约尔(Michel Mayor)和迪迪埃·奎洛兹(Didier Queloz)。其中,皮布尔斯因对宇宙物理理论的贡献独享一半奖金,而马约尔和奎洛兹因为发现了绕着类日恒星运动的太阳系外行星而共享另一半奖金。
Last week, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to James Peebles for theoretical contributions to physical cosmology, along with Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz for their work on exoplanets-distant planets that orbit stars other than our sun.
These lines of research both shed light on the universe and our position in it, but they do so from very different perspectives. Modern physical cosmology reveals that the universe started out amazingly simple and homogeneous, while the study of exoplanets reveals that at present it is complex and diverse. That contrast poses a big question: How did the complexity emerge?
在宇宙历史的初期,所有的物质都处于一种高温、致密、 近乎均匀的状态,并且迅速膨胀。这是标准宇宙大爆炸模型的核心思想。它能够解释许多天文观测结果,包括遥远星系远离我们的速度,以及不同化学元素的相对丰度。
Early in the history of the universe, all the matter in it was hot, dense and very nearly uniform. It was also rapidly expanding. Those ideas are the heart of the standard Big Bang model, which lets us account for many observations, including the fact that distant galaxies are moving away from us and the relative abundance of different chemical elements.
Notably, the model predicted the existence of a lingering Big Bang afterglow-the so-called microwave background radiation that fills all space. That afterglow was duly observed, providing a snapshot of the early universe. Mr. Peebles pulled those lines of evidence together into a coherent scenario of the history of the universe and spelled out its consequences for the size, shape and distribution of galaxies.
充盈着早期宇宙的炽热气体的分子运动与化学组成完全是随机的,非常接近物理学家们称之为" 完全热平衡"的状态。一般来说,当系统达到了热平衡后,就会一直处于这个态:始终保持一种均匀单调的状态,不会衍生出任何结构乃至生命。
The early hot gas that filled the universe was completely random in its molecular motions and chemical mixing. It was, to a very good approximation, in the condition physicists call "complete thermal equilibrium." Ordinarily, once systems reach complete thermal equilibrium they stay there. They remain uniform and featureless; they do not develop structure or "come to life."
Our universe escaped that dismal fate primarily because gravity, acting over vast reaches of space and time, makes uniformity unstable. Gravity wants things to clump. Thus the material in the universe, at first highly uniform, fragmented under the influence of gravity into vast cloudlike structures.
At first the clouds were tenuous and wispy, but over time, under the continuing influence of gravity, their material condensed further. The matter in the universe gradually evolved into its present configuration: galaxies hosting stars and planets, all separated by yawning regions of nearly empty space.
Planetary matter, cool and dense, then began to host another level of fragmentation and diversification: the emergence of complex chemistry, and even-in at least one case-intelligent life. Because planets are relatively small and emit no light of their own, it is very hard to detect them from far away. Mr. Mayor and Mr. Queloz pioneered the delicate technologies that have quickly taken exoplanetary astronomy from science fiction into a thriving, data-driven enterprise.
This is a very broad-brush account of how the complex universe that we inhabit today could have emerged. Though many crucial details need filling in, the outlines are straightforward and widely accepted: The emergence of abundant complexity from simple beginnings and simple laws takes a long time and requires lots of matter (but maybe nothing else). Thankfully, our universe is blessed with plentiful supplies of both.
Frank Wilczek:弗兰克·维尔切克是麻省理工学院物理学教授、量子色动力学的奠基人之一。因在夸克粒子理论(强作用)方面所取得的成就,他在2004年获得了诺贝尔物理学奖。
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