Find our place along the great scale

The amount we must learn is infinite – as vast as the universe, or multiverse, in which we and our planet revolve. (Photo: Pixabay)

Almost every week, we glimpse deeper into our universe through increasingly fine-tuned telescopes and lenses. Astronomers recently released the most detailed of them Pictures of the distant Orion Nebula – 1300 light years. Earlier in the summer, they discovered 21″white dwarfCandidate stars and the most distant galaxy ever observed.

The amount we must learn is infinite – as vast as the universe, or multiverse, in which we and our planet revolve. It’s exciting and sometimes confusing to realize how much we don’t know yet.

Surprisingly, when the lens is flipped to observe the foundations of life instead of Galactic Outer Boundariesthere is less certainty.

in When we stop understanding the worldBenjamin Lapatut describes how the arrival of quantum mechanics changed the linear trajectory that, up to that point, had greatly increased our scientific success in shrinking the world into smaller and smaller known pieces.

At a 1927 conference of the world’s greatest scientists, explains Lapatut, Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr presented their astonishing insight into quantum mechanics. It describes how “the electron is not in any fixed place until it is measured; only in that moment it appears. Before it is measured, it has no attributes; before it is observed, it cannot even be visualized.” With this discovery, scientific thinkers have confronted the limits of our ability to fully understand the building blocks of life in concrete terms.

With this discovery, scientific thinkers have confronted the limits of our ability to fully understand the building blocks of life in concrete terms.

Heisenberg also provided “Uncertainty principlewhich states that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be measured precisely. The more accurately you know one value, the less accurately you know the other.

Quantum mechanics has changed the course of science. as such Wikipedia She explains, “Quantum mechanics describes nature in a way that is different from how we usually think about science. It tells us how likely some things are to happen, rather than telling us that they will definitely happen.” Although its arrival has changed the reductive nature of some scientific paths, its inherent uncertainty has not made them any less valuable. Quantum mechanics is the basis of chemistry and cosmology.

astrophysicist Adam Frank And his colleagues say that the scientific shift has changed the status of a designated historical observer of the world. He writes that we can no longer expect to know the world “per se, outside of our ways of seeing and acting on things. Experience is as fundamental to scientific knowledge as the physical reality it reveals.”

Lapatut wrote: “Physics should not be concerned with reality, but with what we can say about reality.” What we say about reality, in other words, our stories, resulted from our relationships with the world(s) around us.

Quantum mechanics describes nature in a way that is different from the way we usually think about science.

As Heisenberg explains, “When we speak of the science of our time, we speak of our relationship with nature, not as objective and discrete observers, but as actors in a game between man and the world.”

Although we find ourselves between two poles of uncertainty – the infinitely small and the infinitely large – our (even nominal) understanding of quantum mechanics can help us gain perspective.

To begin, we can embrace, humbly, the realization that we are far from fully understanding, and likely not fully understand, the mechanisms that define nature and reality. Science is not absolute, but we can learn to thrive under this lack of certainty. It can help us approach the world with more curiosity and questioning.

as a writer Marilyn Robinson He says, we should look at “sciences whose terms and methods can overturn inquirers’ assumptions” rather than those that “simply insist on the true value of their assumptions”.

And we can act on what we know, such as our ever-increasing appreciation of the deep interactions that make life possible—from the complex underground fungal networks to the global carbon cycle, from the quantum to the cosmic. We constantly observe our world and return to each other, reviewing understandings over time.

Our experiences will always be part of our “reality”. You can’t joke between them. We always face uncertainty. But in the absence of certainty, probability lies among an infinite series of possible outcomes. Collectively we can change the world, by striving for the best that is possible, through our relationships with nature and with each other.