Epic anthropocentric hubris


Mindfuck by Mayank Chhaya

I am staking my over three decades as a physics aficionado to say what I am about to say. Forgive me for I know not what I am saying but say I nevertheless will.

The universe is one infinite mindfuck. Any final explanation by way of a Theory of Everything about all its “mysteries” can be right in a certain moment and then it changes beyond recognition. Hence the term infinite mindfuck. I am beginning to think that to think that there is one final Theory of Everything is nothing but epic anthropocentric hubris. The notion that we can create one elegant explanation about everything that the universe encompasses is a uniquely human obsession.

Mathematical physicist turned hedge fund economist Dr. Eric Weinstein’s much talked about presentation in the main physics lecture theatre here at the University of Oxford has amused/irritated/pissed off many in the physics community. Of course, there is the how-dare-a-mere-dabbler-presume-to-solve-the-final-puzzle aspect of feeling pissed off. A hedge fund consultant doubling up as the ultimate physicist? Really? That seems to be the underlying sentiment among some people.

There is also a very legitimate grievance about how particle and other physicists were left out of the presentation.

Dr. Weinstein’s lecture was organized courtesy well-known mathematician Marcus du Sautoy who also happens to be the University of Oxford’s professor of the public understanding of science. What has riled many in the physics establishment is that Dr. Weinstein has not published any paper or submitted one for peer review. It is obvious that the physics establishment feels bypassed and that could be one reason why derision about Dr. Weinstein’s idea is trickling in.

Speaking of his work, this is how the Clarendon Laboratory’s website described the concept: “A program for Geometric Unity is presented to argue that the seemingly baroque features of the standard model of particle physics are in fact inexorable and geometrically natural when generalizations of the Yang-Mills and Dirac theories are unified with one of general relativity.”

While I will let the conservative physics establishment sort out how they deal with someone they probably regard as an interloper, my concern is mainly with the universe. It is just about time for the physics community to consider the possibility that everything that they say about the universe may be right in a particular moment and then is rendered inadequate the next. Perhaps there is no universal theory for the universe. Perhaps snapshots and slices are all that we can comprehend. Perhaps there is nothing to comprehend. Perhaps the universe is what individuals make of it.

It is a laudable objective to want to drape the universe in an utterly exquisite and elegant mathematical robe. It is commendable that the human mind wants to ferret out one universal truth that underlies everything. But it might be equally wise to consider the possibility that there is nothing to unravel because it all stands already unraveled. Could it be that the universe is in a constant state of somehow retaining a bare minimum equilibrium? And in the process of retaining that bare minimum equilibrium it improvises all laws that are supposed to govern it? Hence my hypothesis that everything that we say about the universe may be right in a particular moment and then it is rendered inadequate the next because it is in a constant flux to retain a bare minimum equilibrium. I began by saying the universe is an infinite mindfuck. This is what I mean.

As for Dr. Weinstein and his idea of Geometric Unity, its all transient anyway.


About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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