E is for Elegance and Everything

An example of simulated data modelled for the ...
An example of simulated data modelled for the CMS particle detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.” -Niels Bohr

Some scientists love the idea of a Grand Unified Theory, a concept that neatly ties the universe up with a bow where all the forces in the universe interact with an elegant grace. The frontrunners for “theory of everything,” though, never seem to achieve that grace. There’s always this or that exception to the rule, something that keeps everything from falling neatly into place.

So it is with cosmology and theology, at least in my experience. Just when I reach some new kind of viewpoint that makes sense of things that previously seemed to be in conflict, some other experience comes along to make set everything askew again. There is no single, beautiful myth that can unite all mythologies – attempts to make one just oversimplify or outright ignore what we know. Even pushing back to the Proto-Indo-European “source” doesn’t give us a single over-arching mythology of everything, not even if we ignore all the other mythological threads in the world.

It’s perfectly natural to hunt beauty, to seek that perfect, sublime understanding. The path itself is a wonderful one, and I enjoy my journey quite a lot. But I’ve given up the expectation that I will actually find a singular something at the end of it, at least not in this lifetime.

I don’t have to understand how everything works, much as I might like to. I just need to enjoy the ride.

0 thoughts on “E is for Elegance and Everything

  1. I’m pretty sure the universe is too diverse and complicated for there to be one singular anything. There has to be at least two, for balance.

    Maybe scientists should work on a Binary Field Theorem?

    1. We do have a Noncommutative Binary States in Intersystem Entanglement Lead to Superpositional States Theory. Which is the shortest most simplistic summary of the original quantum physics ever. It not only admit everything is made of binary states, but that every particle exists in both such states and in neither state, making it in “all” states after a fashion. But this isn’t really good for measuring things and how do you science without measuring things? It’s terrifying to consider!

  2. I love what you did with this post, linking the Incompleteness Problem into religion. It’s such an amazing yet mind boggling connection to explore, to realize we move towards Truth with this ever diminishing distance between, and yet never leap the gap.

    I though of you the other day in class when we started our discussion of the many worlds theory and its body of work. I sort of live for the stuff of those ideas: particles existing in what for our reckoning is liminal space, the world being the arrest of potentiality as far as our senses experience moments. And of course, no matter how far we go, being left to wonder what is just over the horizon, just beyond our sight and understanding.

    I wonder if this is how my son feels trying to get the toolbox off the workbench.

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