Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am totally fascinated by turn of the twentieth century events.Accumulation of scientific data and how young bright minds maneged to think out of the box and change our understanding of the world.
Names like Paul Dirac, Heisenberg and his Uncertainty Principle (one of the most fascinating aspects of Quantum Mechanics)
Erwin Schrodinger and his famous cat thought experiment emphasising and discussing Copenhagen Interpretation and the importance of "the observer" in a quantum system with all it's philosophical implications.
Wolfgang Pauli's exclusion principle and how he did proposed the existence of "Neutrino" in 1930 to be confirmed experimentally in 1956.
I keep visiting this period reading about it and wondering "how they did it?"
Scientists use philosophy when they ask the deepest questions,such as What constitutes a scientific theory? What sort of physical objects should it consider and how should it treat them? What is physical reality?
At the beginning of twentieth century these questions became crucial when they had to content with objects-such as electrons and atoms they could not actually see.Classic ways of understanding the world suddenly seemed insufficient.An intellectual tidal wave-and avant-garde-swept across Europe.
Scientific concepts,ways of thinking,and ways of knowing were all being re-examined.Einstein did so when he discovered his special theory of relativity in 1905.

This upheaval in thinking pervaded the world outside science too.
In 1907 Pablo Picasso launched cubism with his "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" and in 1910
Wassily Kandinsky unveiled abstract expressionism.In 1913 Igor Stravinsky ruptured all the conventions of classic ballet with his "Rite of Spring".The postwar 1920's produced the twelve-tone music of Arnold Schonberg,James Joyce's extraordinary novels,which encompassed everything from relativity to cubism.

Writers like Kafka and Zamyatin described in there work the nightmarish human condition under the thumb of modern state and the aggressive ideologies of decades to come.
Meanwhile Freud and Jung were investigating the unconscious.
Old ideas of "
Positivism" with it's ultimate purpose to eliminate unreliable thinking.."the only thing that was really out there was what you can experience with your senses".This is not enough now and very restrictive.
A sophisticated version was developed by group of young philosophers with strong scientific background.They called it "
logical empiricism":the word "empiricism"refers to experimental data.

Logical empiricism emphasized the role of mathematics in that a theory required a consistent logical or mathematical structure.
A scientific theory had to be built on empirical data with the help of mathematics and had to generate predictions that could be tested in lab.
With the rise of psychoanalysis scientists began to look into how they came up with their discoveries.
Logical empiricists viewed scientists constructing theories by moving logically-mathematically-from experimental data to a theory.Einstein considered this wrongheaded.

"There is no logical path to these laws,only intuition,resting on sympathetic understanding of experience,can reach them"

"Deciphering The Cosmic Number" a book I just finished .Dealing with the strange friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung.
Both giants met in the no-man's land between Physics and Psychology..the most fascinating yet the darkest hunting ground of our time.One of there quest was "Is there a number at the root of the universe?"
A primal number that everything in the world hinges to?
Physicist,psychologists and mystics throughout history have pondered this question.
Some have proposed THREE,as in Trinity and the 3 dimensions,some have suggested FOUR ,as in the seasons,directions and number of limbs.
Or is the answer "137",which describes the fine-structure constant of the atom and ALSO happens to be the sum of the Hebrew letters of the world "Kabbalah"?
A fantastic journey between physics,psychology,mysticism and social changes.