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August 23, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser?

"This is a mysterious universe, and the more we know about it the more mysterious it seems," the New York Times writes in a pretty little editorial on dark matter.

I wonder whether this is actually true. Is understanding gravity, as most of us do, but having no way to grasp the eleven dimensions of string theory really more mysterious than understanding what the sun and moon do, as educated Greeks did, but having no idea why the planets occasionally seem to zig or zag? Is the point that there are always going to be some things we, or our scientists, can get our minds around, and then, at the raggedy fringes, some we can't? Or are these forms of knowledge really accelerating beyond our grasp?

And then why do we continually try to squeeze even more primitive understandings -- Big Daddies in the sky -- into the holes that inevitably pop up in our increasingly sophisticated understandings?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at August 23, 2006 11:56 AM


We do not understand gravity by believing in it.
Being able to predict how gravity moves objects is not the same as understanding how.
We are creating knowledge at accelerating rates, which will necessitate the creation of new enhanced humans+ to deal with it.

Its all about awareness. We have next to none.
(Except for the NSA).

Posted by: Jay Saul at August 23, 2006 4:42 PM

Jay's point, as usual, cuts right to the heart of the matter: We observe natural phenomena and are able to predict, based on our observations, but understanding ("knowing" its nature, meaning, cause and origin) is, most of the time, beyond us.

Something in our human nature seems to reject the premise that there is anything beyond our understanding . . . so the search goes on and, along the way, we create new ways of looking at things and new theories to support those observations.

(And I still didn't tell you anything you didn't already know!)

Posted by: whymrhymer at August 24, 2006 10:46 AM

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