Paulo Torres - Archives

The Hidden Things, That I Don’t Know

September 27, 2012 | Paulo Torres

I distinctively remember my General Relativity classes.

Every one of them was a joyful experience, and yet I often came home frustrated because I hadn’t understood a particular equation, mathematical reasoning or structure that day. Even so, the feeling of anticipation was nearly overwhelming. A great and beautiful mystery was increasingly within my grasp, if only I could reach out beyond what felt like a mental fog clouding my understanding.

This was not just any mystery. General Relativity is a theory of space-time. It describes the very “stuff” which surrounds us, the reality we are probably a part of.

According to this theory, mass and energy curve the very fabric of reality1. Straight lines are bent, and are renamed as geodesics. In the absence of any external force, objects simply follow these geodesics2. Physicist John Wheeler put it well when he said, “Matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move.” So, for instance, the trajectory Earth follows around the sun is actually a geodesic––an otherwise …
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Paulo Torres

Research Physicist

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

January 24, 2012 | Paulo Torres

As a child I remember looking once at the clear night sky and feeling the deep awe it inspires. It wasn’t just a sense that the Universe is big that gripped me, though it certainly is. It was the whole experience of being in the dark with my senses half deprived, which enhanced the profound feeling of wonder as I gazed up into the immensity of space. I believe that every child has this kind of experience at least once, realizing just how small we are and how much there is to discover. It may last just a few minutes or the whole life! But it always happens, because, as every child knows, one of the deepest pleasures a human being can experience is the pleasure of finding things out. It is not by accident that this expression is actually a quote from a physicist, Richard Feynman. Physicists (and other scientists too) are just grown up kids that haven’t forgotten about the guiltless pleasure of being curious about everything!

Being …
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Paulo Torres

Research Physicist