Tag Archives: The theory of everything

Nearly every physicist in the world will insist that you – yes, you — have married a movie star, earned millions of dollars and lived in an exotic locale. They know you’ve done this – even if you don’t –because their research proves it. Strangely, this is what science has come to, and it’s bunk.

18 Sep


Basic science once was easy. Now it’s difficult for even scientists, and those who pretend to understand it probably don’t.


There is no logic to it. Nothing in the observable world compares to it. Metaphors can no longer explain it. Wild imagination is required just to discuss it.


In ancient times, when there was a lunar eclipse, people would say their god ate the moon and later vomited it up. Don’t laugh. The stories our scientists tell today also sound like fables.


Consider this standard, nearly universal tenant of science:


We cannot predict what a particle will do because it actually does everything while inhabiting a multitude of universes.


What this means on a larger scale is that each one of us has married a movie star, become a millionaire and done nearly everything else that is possible to do — and maybe more. We just didn’t do it in the single universe we wake up to every day. We did it somewhere else.


There is no word yet on how to jump our consciousness to those other universes, where clearly we are having a lot more fun.


Rather than just accept such ideas, which evolve from a desperate, almost ruthless attempt to boil science down into a single theory of everything, I take the position that human being are incapable of fully understanding what exists and how the universe works.


It’s a concession few are willing to make, but I have made it.


To their credit, scientists keep trying to figure it all out. The problem is, they try too hard.


In the time-honored tradition of changing the facts to fit the theory, scientists – mainly physicists — make their single-theory equations work by adding 10 or more dimensions to the four we know. They have pushed the limits of logic by describing a key component of matter as having only two dimensions while at the same time saying it seems to have only one. Perhaps most interesting but hardest to accept is that the theory assumes our universe is one of many universes and that the history we know is but one occurrence of infinite occurrences, meaning all things in all ways have happened.


Yes, you have driven a Lamborghini and owned a house in the South of France.


Only by assuming such things can a single theory work.


Feynman quoteModern physics used to be about spheres revolving around a central core of matter. The planets revolved around a sun; electrons around their nucleus. Big and small objects sort of worked the same.


The catastrophe of science began when it was determined that big and small did not work the same. Things were far more complex than a bunch of balls circling around other balls.


Scientists who longed for a single theory could not live with this duality of big being different from small. And so they struggled for a theory that would handle both. These theories only worked with 10 or 11 dimensions, with vibrating strings replacing atoms, with everything having not one life but a history of every possible life.


There actually is an assortment of these theories. And, mathematically, they all work – which I think means they can predict what is observed or sort of observed. In the new science, you really can’t observe anything.


Any scientist reading this will know I am not one of them. For the past several decades, however, I have tried keeping up with their progress. I’ve enjoyed and felt comfortable with Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity. They were complex and not entirely in line with what we experience in life, but scientists found believable ways to explain them using stories of clocks on trains and twin space travelers.


Next came quantum mechanics, which defied all logic and seemed impossible and ridiculous but could not be proven wrong. Then, when physicists started trying to unify theories on the four forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetism and the weak and strong forces of the atom), a big mess started to accumulate and I could not keep up.


But recently, I checked back to see if anything sensible had developed. I picked up the book, “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking (the guy in the wheelchair) and Leonard Mlodinow (a physicist at Caltech). Like any survey of science for the layman, it starts off good.


The authors even make jokes about their profession.


stephen-hawkingAbout all those new dimensions, they say: “Ten dimensions might sound exciting, but they would cause real problems if you forgot where you parked your car.”


They included cartoons. One is of a woman introducing two men saying, “You both have something in common. Dr. Davis has discovered a particle which nobody has seen, and Prof. Higbe has discovered a galaxy which nobody has seen.”


The authors easily convey the genius of such minds as Richard Feynman (who in his spared time played bongos at a strip club), John Conway (the creator of a simple game that seems to explain the workings of God) and so many others.


But they also let on that few if any of today physicists really understand the things they expect us to believe.


Indeed, Feynman, a quantum god, once said that no one understands quantum mechanics. He described is as “nature as She is — absurd.”


Niels Bohr, a quantum pioneer, said that anyone who does understand quantum mechanics would be shocked by it.

It’s difficult to find a concise explanation of quantum mechanics, but author and theoretical physicist Sean Carroll said the theory tells us that what we can observe about the world is only a tiny subset of what actually exists.


Einstein recognized the importance and power of quantum theory while admitting an inner voice told him it was not the real thing.


Neils quoteI have this same problem. Something tells me that without elegance, logic and relative simplicity, a theory cannot be correct. The strange, counter-intuitive ideas of science, these mathematical attempts to explain what we are not yet capable of knowing, are earnest and hard-fought attempts to penetrate the impenetrable. They are not, however, for me.


I prefer to put in with Aristotle, who didn’t need to test, measure or even observe. If he could think it through and see the sense of it, he accepted it. If it explained the world and what he knew of it, that was enough.


Science is a marvel, but so are the philosophers and poets – so many of them ancient Greeks – who could explain the unseen and unknown without so much as a microscope. They were intuitive and in touch with the creation and they just knew.


That’s what I’m waiting for. A new Aristotle. A philosopher who just knows.


And even then, what is explained will be far short of reality. It will be a beautiful metaphor that we can grasp, glorify and use; one that will enable us to carry on in a long harmonic march toward the greater understanding of ourselves.


But I remained convince that the truth, the ultimate theory, is just not for us to know. We were created for another reason, a reason that will never be revealed. Something or someone else, a force not of this world, has the job of knowing. Tough luck for us.


The best part, however, is that few but me will admit it, and that the search continues. The search is good. It keeps us alive and gives us meaning, even if it takes us in circles.


As the biblical proverb says:


“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”


By the way, there are a few scientists who have come around to thinking their colleagues are dead wrong on quantum mechanics. For more, read this.

By Lanny Morgnanesi

Big war, small peace – did Stephen Hawking really know the truth?

29 Aug


I was waiting, so I picked up a book. Inside, just a few pages in, was a simple sentence with the power to uplift, encourage, and promote optimism.


It seemed to confirm the idea that there was light amid the dark; that somewhere below the horrid nature of mankind there was good trying to surface.

Sadly, that sentence – written as a statement of fact – is probably wrong. Oddly, its author is one of the world’s most intelligent men.


Hawking book jacket-bioThe book was “My Brief History,” the 2013 autobiography of physicist Stephen Hawking, the man in the wheelchair with the synthetic voice whose life is now a major motion picture called, “The Theory of Everything.”


The movie is more a love story than a science story. Still, its title comes from Hawking’s pursuit of a unified way of explaining all forces in the universe.

In the book, Hawking talks about his birth in Cambridge, England, home of one of the world’s greatest universities. His reason for being born in Cambridge is what uplifted me. His casual little sentence was a gentle piece of history I had never heard of; one of those marvelous pieces of information that suggests we maintain a small degree of civility even as we try to utterly destroy each other. It was like reading for the first time about the unofficial Christmas truce during World War I, when soldiers from both sides climbed out of the trenches, sang songs together, exchanged presents and even played soccer.


In Hawking’s case, the scene is World War II. The scientist said his family moved to Cambridge because the English and the Germans had agreed it was not to be bombed. Also under protection was Oxford, and in Germany the universities at Heidelberg and Goettingen.


I had never heard anything of the sort, but recognized that such an agreement could easily have been buried in the rubble of all the other destruction. Visualizing the leaders of these two warring countries shaking hands on this was heart-warming. I actually pictured them doing it.


But I guess even Hawking can get things wrong.


The fact-checking site Snopes.com said the agreement mentioned by Hawking had been an Internet myth. It’s likely to spread further now with Hawking’s book. Additional searches could not confirm the agreement.


Of course, Cambridge was without strategic value and bombs were precious, so it was much safer to be in Cambridge than in London. Hawking’s father probably moved the family there just to lessen the odds of being killed.


With many others doing the same, the myth of protection probably evolved and spread. I’m sure it made living in Cambridge a lot more comfortable.


Cambridge bombedMyth or not, in 2010 a BBC website ran a story on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Vicarage Terrace in Cambridge. It has a woman named Barbara Wright remembering the incident. She was six. There’s a photo.


“Suddenly there was a huge noise,” she said. “The actual walls on either side came in and practically touched us.”


The story said nine people were killed in the attack, and that they were the first British civilian casualties of the war.


The fact that the myth exists even when there is proof that Cambridge was bombed shows the power of myth and the need to believe in good things.


If anyone can shed additional light on the myth, the truth, or Stephen Hawking, please comment. Perhaps the full story still remains to be told. Please don’t, however, write if you have info that the Christmas truce was a myth. Let’s at least leave that one in place. After all, they made a movie out of it.


The trailer is below, along with that for the new Hawking movie.


By Lanny Morgnanesi


<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/Salz7uGp72c” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>




embed trailer

%d bloggers like this: