© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe


This program originally aired on May 9, 2017.  

What is time? Why does it always seem to move forward? Why is the earth made of matter and not of anti-matter? Are there really just three dimensions? Are we alone in the Universe? How big is the Universe? 

The short answer is, "we have no idea," and that's the point of a new book by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Cham and Whiteson about their new book We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe. 

“There could be a 4th dimension, a 5th dimension. There could be an 11th dimension or a 26th dimension. We could be in a 3 dimensional part of a the universe," says Whiteson. "I like to imagine going forward 500 years and reading a textbook when we have answers to these questions. Would we even be able to comprehend the answers?”

Whiteson is a professor of experimental particle physics at the University of California Irvine and a fellow of the American Physical Society. Cham is creator of the online coming Pile Higher and Deeper, known as PHD Comics. He holds a Ph.D. in robotics from Stanford. 

In writing the book, they wanted to tackle some of the most interesting existential questions we don't have answers to. Find out more about it by watching their trailer. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River