A Re­flec­tion on Physics

The Hamilton Spectator - - OUR PULSE - THOMAS J. BAKER, GRADE 12

Ages ago, the schol­ars of the world be­lieved in per­fec­tion­ism – that the earth was flat, par­al­lel to heaven and hell, and sit­u­ated in the cen­tre of the uni­verse. Peo­ple and ob­jects were gov­erned by a “Great-chain of be­ing” that sorted ev­ery­thing to a place and a hi­er­ar­chi­cal sta­tus. In a sim­i­lar way, the in­tel­lects at the var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions of the older ages came to be com­fort­able with a clas­si­cal the­ory of physics. Th­ese sci­en­tists thought they had mas­tered the un­der­stand­ing of the uni­verse and be­lieved that through math­e­mat­ics, like Isaac New­ton’s, ev­ery­thing could be pre­dicted and ex­plained. This was true ex­cept for some tiny triv­ial ir­ri­tat­ing is­sues. But from th­ese in­signif­i­cant er­rors in clas­si­cal the­ory rose new ideas and sci­en­tists who just won­dered why some pieces didn’t fit. As a re­sult, a “crack” in clas­si­cal the­ory led way to a rev­o­lu­tion in science by rel­a­tivis­tic and quan­tum un­der­stand­ing and even­tu­ally tech­nol­ogy (that we use ev­ery day). How­ever, this move­ment also proved a for­got­ten fact: that in science or life, things are never com­pletely pre­dictable and what could be the slight­est in­signif­i­cant ac­ci­dent could re­sult in one of the great­est dis­cov­er­ies ever. There­fore, we as peo­ple must never be sat­is­fied with “that’s good enough” or bet­ter yet, we as stu­dents must never be sat­is­fied with “that grade is high enough.” It is true that we can only do our best, but if you do your best then your grade is not merely “good enough” but “your best.” Heisen­berg’s un­cer­tainty prin­ci­ple states we can­not know both a par­ti­cle’s po­si­tion and mo­men­tum at the same time. But that just shows our won­der­ful uni­verse and how per­fectly im­per­fect it is, per­plex­ing enough that we can­not pre­dict it, but amaz­ing to fig­ure even a piece of it out. Un­cer­tainty and un­pre­dictabil­ity will not stop sci­en­tists from try­ing to dis­cover the most re­mote, far­fetched, pos­si­bil­i­ties out there no mat­ter how un­likely. So, nei­ther should it stop us from pur­su­ing our path with our best ef­fort as all we re­ally need is to take a crack at it.

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