Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Different Perspective on Science

If you've read this blog for any considerable period of time, you would have noticed that I've highlighted several of Robert Crease's articles from time to time. So now, instead of him writing an article about something, this article is all about him, the main behind the story. Read his infamous encounter with Richard Feynman.

“So we aren’t any closer to unification than we were in Einstein’s time?” Crease asked. He and Feynman had been discussing the Standard Model, a cornerstone of modern particle physics that is considered to be almost a theory of everything, but still quite there be- cause it leaves out principle subjects like general relativity.

“It’s a crazy question!” Feynman said in anger. “We’re certainly closer. We know more. And if there’s a finite amount to be known, we obviously must be closer to having the knowledge, okay? I don’t know how to make this into a sensible question…it’s all so stupid. All these interviews are so damned useless.”

It was at that point that Feynman got up from his desk and cut the inter- view off. Crease heard Feynman yell from the corridor, “The history of these things is nonsense! You’re trying to make something difficult and complicated out of something that’s simple and beautiful.”

For a philosopher, he isn't that bad in dealing with science (is that a back-handed compliment?). A lot of his writing, especially his historical accounts, are very informative and entertaining, and I've always look forward to those.



John Wendt said...

"'So we aren’t any closer to unification than we were in Einstein’s time?' Crease asked."

Some time in the late 1960s a computer company wrote in its customer newsletter:

"We have not succeeded in answering all our questions. Indeed, we have not fully answered any of them. The answers we have found have only served to raise a whole new set of questions. In some ways we feel we are as confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a much higher level, and about more important things."

ZapperZ said...

I'm not sure if you're making a similar comparison between the two, but I don't think they are similar at all.