… her second book for a popular audience, she has two avowed aims: first, to explain where physics might be headed now that the Large Hadron Collider — the enormous particle accelerator on the Swiss-French border — is finally up and running; and second, to air her views on the nature of science, its fraught relations with religion, and the role of beauty as a guide to scientific truth.
She gives a fine analysis of the affinity between scientific and artistic beauty, comparing the broken symmetries of a Richard Serra sculpture to those at the core of the Standard Model. Elsewhere, though, she is guilty of what might be called premature intellectual closure. Can a scientist be religious? Only at the price of inconsistency, she argues, because scientific determinism is not compatible with belief in a deity who can willfully intervene in the world. Sympathetic though I am to her conclusion, I would point out that scientific determinism is equally incompatible with free will and moral responsibility.
They’re also incompatible with science meaning anything at all, because there isn’t really anyone for whom it can mean anything.
And why did she think “Knocking at Heaven’s Door” was an okay title for her book? Haven’t people had enough of this cue-schlock-music meaningfulness? Never there when it matters.
See also: Higgs boson: Find it in one year or bust, top physicists say
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