The act of understanding the workings of nature- and our place and it- expresses for me what is most noble and the good in us.
Read Online In the fifth century B. The atoms themselves were taken as givens. In Alan lightman essay nineteenth century, scientists discovered that the chemical properties of atoms repeat periodically and created the periodic table to reflect this factbut the origins of such patterns remained mysterious.
And we now know that all atoms heavier than helium were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. The history of science can be viewed as the recasting of phenomena that were once thought to be accidents as phenomena that can be understood in terms of fundamental causes and principles.
One can add to the list of the fully explained: All these phenomena and many more, once thought to have been fixed at the beginning of time or to be the result of random events thereafter, have been explained as necessary consequences of the fundamental laws of nature—laws discovered by human beings.
This long and appealing trend may be coming to an end. It is perhaps impossible to say how far apart the different universes may be, or whether they exist simultaneously in time.
Some may have stars and galaxies like ours. Some may be finite in size.
Some may be infinite. If the multiverse idea is correct, the style of fundamental physics will be radically changed.
Theoretical physics is the deepest and purest branch of science. It is the outpost of science closest to philosophy, and religion.
Experimental scientists occupy themselves with observing and measuring the cosmos, finding out what stuff exists, no matter how strange that stuff may be. Theoretical physicists, on the other hand, are not satisfied with observing the universe. They want to know why. They want to explain all the properties of the universe in terms of a few fundamental principles and parameters.
An example of a fundamental principle in physics, first proposed by Galileo in and extended by Einstein inis the following: All observers traveling at constant velocity relative to one another should witness identical laws of nature.
From this principle, Einstein derived his theory of special relativity. As far as physicists are concerned, the fewer the fundamental principles and parameters, the better.
The underlying hope and belief of this enterprise has always been that these basic principles are so restrictive that only one, self-consistent universe is possible, like a crossword puzzle with only one solution.
That one universe would be, of course, the universe we live in. Theoretical physicists are Platonists. Until the past few years, they agreed that the entire universe, the one universe, is generated from a few mathematical truths and principles of symmetry, perhaps throwing in a handful of parameters like the mass of the electron.
It seemed that we were closing in on a vision of our universe in which everything could be calculated, predicted, and understood. However, two theories in physics, eternal inflation and string theory, now suggest that the same fundamental principles from which the laws of nature derive may lead to many different self-consistent universes, with many different properties.
It is as if you walked into a shoe store, had your feet measured, and found that a size 5 would fit you, a size 8 would also fit, and a size 12 would fit equally well.
Such wishy-washy results make theoretical physicists extremely unhappy. Evidently, the fundamental laws of nature do not pin down a single and unique universe. According to the current thinking of many physicists, we are living in one of a vast number of universes.
We are living in an accidental universe. We are living in a universe uncalculable by science.“Alan Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time.
Lightman has twice been a juror for the Pulitzer Prize, for general nonfiction in and for fiction in In , Lightman received a Sydney Award for the best magazine . Alan Lightman Biography Einstein’s Dreams Questions and Answers The Question and Answer section for Einstein’s Dreams is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Alan Lightman on the Longing for Absolutes in a Relative World and What Gives Lasting Meaning to Our Lives “We are idealists and we are realists. We . Since that time, Lightman's essays, short fiction, and reviews have also appeared in The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, Origins: the Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists / Alan Lightman and Roberta Brawer.
– Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Homeboyz by Alan Sitomer Essay - Alan Sitomer’s newest fast paced novel Homeboyz is a hardcore suspense story that will immediately put readers on the edge and leave them breathless in the end.