Nobelist Wolfgang Pauli (1945) is said to have remarked, “When I die, my first question to the devil will be: What is the meaning of the fine structure constant?” At any rate, he thought about it a great deal during his life.
To be sure that our sense of smell has declined, we would first need to see whether concerted efforts to improve it were successful. Richard Feynman tried it.
Feynman: These scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged simply as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems to be inadequate.
So, unlike modern pundits, Newton and Feynman knew a lot about the actual carefully thought-out views of ancient astronomers. But what, after all, did they really know? None of those people had smartphones.
He starts out well but notice how Darwinism, flung into the works like an old shoe, undermines the topic completely. If beauty is really “in the eye of the beholder” full stop, there is really no such thing as beauty. If the “capacity for aesthetic appreciation” evolved “possibly involving natural selection,” then it is unrelated to the object and best understood in terms of how many children artists have.
Massimo Pigliucci: But as the German theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder has pointed out (also in Aeon), there is absolutely no reason to think that simplicity and beauty are reliable guides to physical reality. She is right for a number of reasons.
The constant 1/137 may be variable after all. This immutable number determines how stars burn, how chemistry happens and even whether atoms exist at all. Physicist Richard Feynman, who knew a thing or two about it, called it “one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no Read More…