January 5, 2009

Next Stop: Thoughtland

Two books inspired the creation of this blog: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott and Tertium Organum by P.D. Ouspensky. Neither author is a physicist; both were published long before today's theories about strings and gluons predicted additional dimensions; yet both discuss the natural geometric conclusion that our perception of space and time should be broadened to include phenomena that we can't, as yet, conceptualize. Case in point: modern string theory predicts that our universe exists in ten spacetime dimensions (as opposed to our familiar four). It takes great imagination and flexibility of doctrine to imagine-- Abbott termed this scientific (or philosophical) suspension of disbelief a trip to "Thoughtland."

I'm no scientist (certainly no mathematician) but it seems to me that, more than a century after Abbott satirized the societal censorship of deep thought, we've come hardly closer to the deification of science. The most important and sought-after theory of physics--a model that would unite quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of relativity (also called the Theory of Everything (TOE))--is today on the precipice of discovery. (That is, if the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can overcome its myriad operation difficulties.) String Theory is finally getting its due, and its disciples dominate today's physics landscape. The fallout of discovering the Higgs boson, or the graviton, or superpartner particles, is nothing short of a deeper understanding of the makeup of the universe and ourselves.

This blog is intended to provide a library of titles for the self-educated modern philosopher-scientist. Every time creationism gains traction in a public school system or stem cell research loses its federal funding, immerse yourself in Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe or Lisa Randall's Warped Passages and be reassured: the revolution has already begun.

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