Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We Are All Still Pretty Ignorant

We are still a very arrogant species. We think we know a whole lot more than we do. I blame a massive failure of the human imagination.

We talk about electrons and quarks with sizes of 10^-15 (actually, we don't really know the size at all), but what of sizes 10^-20, 10^-100, or 10^(-10^100)? We don't know.

We talk about the size of the universe, but what of sizes hundred of times the size of the universe, beyond our measurement?

We talk about Planck time of 10^-44 seconds, but what about the massive number of events that could occur in each of the 10^-100 seconds that make up that time?

And we measure time until the beginning of the universe, but what about billions of equivalent time periods before and after this universe? Do they form patterns?

We still don't know if things look different from other parts of the universe than they do from here. And what we don't know about ourselves - the way we think, the way we feel - is undoubtedly vastly more than what we know.

Which doesn't mean that everything we don't know must perforce be entertained as possible. Even if it may be possible, you still have to explain its practical relevance before I do anything about it.

In fact, the less "like" what we know now, the more interesting the theory.

Invisible men walking around the planet is uninteresting; I know too much about men and my planet to acknowledge the possibility. If such a thing mattered, it would have mattered long ago. On the other hand, a theory about how thousands of universes group and form bubbles is more interesting, because it explores entirely new areas of the imagination that I've never considered.

I like to see a little humility in what is presented as facts and a little daring in what is presented as theory.



Adam said...

I don't understand the scale of the graph. Are the number of things there are to know decreasing from here on out? Why would that be?

Yehuda said...

Sorry. I should make the graph more clear.

The black line represents everything we can know. The red line encompasses the entire black line. The green line encompasses most of the black line. The blue line represents a very small point on the black line.

It wasn't meant to be a curve over time, rather simply to delineate a boundary.