What do you ask the man who knows everything? The theoretical physicist and bestselling author answers questions from famous fans and Observer readers
Not since the 1960s have we witnessed such appetite for space missions. Here’s what to expect in the year ahead, from commercial launches to Chinese ambitions
We hardly think of Extraterrestrial life in terms other than life forms based on Earth, that is, we have a hard and non-flexible definition of life that is based on carbon-based organisms that we seldom look out for other forms of “life”. Extraterrestrial life could be of the form that we have never seen on Earth, made of elements that are not even available on Earth. Or in some cases, as the Labeled release experiment from 1970 showed, we could have Earth-like microbial life. It is always, I believe, wrong to generalize life only based on the only experiences we have had so far.
A few years ago, while testing a superconducting ceramic disc by rotating it above powerful electromagnets, Podkletnov noticed something extremely strange. Small objects above the disc seemed to lose weight, as if they were being shielded from the pull of Planet Earth. The weight reduction was small – around 2 percent – but nothing like this had ever been observed before. If the shielding effect could be refined and intensified, the implications would be immense. In fact, practical, affordable gravity nullification could change our lives more radically than the invention of the internal combustion engine.
Do supermassive black holes have friends? The nature of galaxy formation suggests that the answer is yes, and in fact, pairs of supermassive black holes should be common in the universe.