Monday, February 20, 2017

Part #5: The Intellectual Beauty of the Cosmos and Physical Reality

"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason

Currently, I am reading A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design by the Nobel-winning physicist, Frank Wilczek, and am also about half way through physicist Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.

From physicist Frank Wilczek's new book on the nature of the cosmos:
“Thus far our meditation on quantum reality has revealed that the world of everyday matter, when properly understood, embodies concepts of extraordinary beauty. Indeed, ordinary matter is built up from atoms that are, in a rich and precise sense, tiny musical instruments."

"In their interplay with light, they realize a mathematical Music of the Spheres that surpasses the visions of Pythagoras, Plato, and Kepler."

"In molecules and ordered materials, those atomic instruments play together as harmonious ensembles and synchronized orchestras.”

"...ideal beauty…feature color, geometry, and symmetry. Consider, in particular the magnificent plate HH. Here the local geometry of the ambient surfaces and the local patterns of their color change as our gaze surveys them."

"It is a vibrant embodiment of anamorphy and anachromy-the very themes that our unveiling of Nature's deep design finds embodied at Nature's core."

"Does the world embody beautiful ideas? There is our answer, before our eyes: Yes."

"The world does not, in its deep design, embody all forms of beauty, nor the ones that people without special study, or very unusual taste, find most appealing."

"But the world does, in its deep design, embody some forms of beauty that have been highly prized for their own sake, and have been intuitively associated with the divine.”
― Frank Wilczek, A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

"Beauty is a vague concept. But so, to begin with, were concepts like "force" and "energy." Through dialogue with Nature, scientists learned to refine the meaning of "force" and "energy," to bring their use into line with important aspects of reality."

"So too, by studying the Artisan's handiwork, we evolve refined concepts of "symmetry," and ultimately of "beauty"-
concepts that reflect important aspects of reality,
while remaining true to the spirit of their use in common language.”

"Concepts live outside of time and, because All Things Are Number, liberate us from it.”
― Frank Wilczek, A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

“When religion talks about our aspirations and our sense of morality, I do not believe that science can contradict it. However, when religion contradicts science on matters of fact, religion must yield.”

“In short: the space of color information is infinite-dimensional, but we perceive, as color, only a three-dimensional surface, onto which those infinite dimensions project.”

“Two obsessions are the hallmarks of Nature's artistic style:
Symmetry- a love of harmony, balance, and proportion
Economy- satisfaction in producing an abundance of effects from very limited means”

“Dynamical beauty transcends specific objects and phenomena, and invites us to imagine the expanse of possibilities. For example, the sizes and shapes of actual planetary orbits are not simple."

"They are neither the (compounded) circles of Aristotle, Ptolemy, and Nicolaus Copernicus, nor even the more nearly accurate ellipses of Kepler, but rather curves that must be calculated numerically, as functions of time, evolving in complicated ways that depend on the positions and masses of the Sun and the other planets."

"There is great beauty and simplicity here, but it is only fully evident when we understand the deep design."

"The appearance of particular objects does not exhaust the beauty of the laws.”

“With this, in a powerful sense, our Question has been answered. The world, insofar as we speak of the world of Chemistry, biology, astrophysics, engineering, and everyday life, does embody beautiful ideas."

"The Core, which governs those domains, is profoundly rooted in concepts of symmetry and geometry, as we have seen. And it works its will, in quantum theory, through music-like rules. Symmetry really does determine structure."

"A pure and perfect Music of the Spheres really does animate the soul of reality. Plato and Pythagoras: We salute you!”
― Frank Wilczek, A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

“For us, the great conclusion is this: all the colors can be obtained from any one of them, by motion, or, as we say, by making Galilean transformations."

"Because Galilean transformations are symmetries of the laws of Nature, any color is fully equivalent to any other. They all emerge as different views of the same thing, seen from different but equally valid perspectives.”

“Yet it is beautiful to discover that there's another chapter to the story, where we discover deep unity beneath, and supporting, the diversity of appearance. All colors are one thing, seen in different states of motion."

"That is science's brilliantly poetic answer to Keats's complaint that science "unweaves a rainbow.”

“Yet many creative spirits have found inspiration in the idea that the Creator might be, among other things, an artist whose aesthetic motivations we can appreciate and share-or even, in daring speculation, that the Creator is primarily a creative artist."

"Such spirits have engaged our Question, in varied and evolving forms, across many centuries."

"Thus inspired, they have produced deep philosophy, great science, compelling literature, and striking imagery."

"Some have produced works that combine several, or all, of those features. These works are a vein of gold running back through our civilization.”
―Frank Wilczek, A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design

“The legendary Danish physicist Niels Bohr distinguished two kinds of truths. An ordinary truth is a statement whose opposite is a falsehood. A profound truth is a statement whose opposite is also a profound truth.”

“The entity we perceive as empty space is a multilayered, multicolored superconductor. What an amazing, astonishing, beautiful, breathtaking concept. Extraordinary, too.”
― Frank Wilczek, The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces

And other scientists on the beauty of the cosmos and our study of it:

“I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing..."

"First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower."

"At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty."

I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes."

"The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms?"

"Why is it aesthetic?"

"All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower.”
-Richard Feyman

“I would suggest that science is, at least in my part, informed worship.”
―Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God

"My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding..."

"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.
I am not an Atheist."

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

"I have not found a better expression than 'religious' for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason."

"I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe."

"We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books."

"It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

"That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God."

"We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations."

"Scientific research can reduce superstition by encouraging people to think and view things in terms of cause and effect. Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality and intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order....
bound up with a deep feeling, in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God."

"If I were not a Jew I would be a Quaker."
-Albert Einstein

In the Light of Science, of the Intellectual Beauty of the Cosmos,

Daniel Wilcox

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