Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Could Look It Up, part 3

"Physicists are trying to find out how nature behaves; they may talk carelessly about some "ultimate particle" because that's the way nature looks at a given moment, but...Suppose people are exploring a new continent, OK? They see water coming along the ground, they've seen that before, and they call it "rivers." So they say they're exploring to find the headwaters, they go upriver, and sure enough, there they are, it's all going very well. But lo and behold, when they get up far enough they find the whole system's different: There's a great big lake, or springs, or the rivers run in a circle. You might say, "Aha! They've failed!" but not at all! The real reason they were doing it was to explore the land."

-- From interview "The Smartest Man in the World," in Omni, 1979, included in the collection The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, edited by Jeffrey Robbins, Perseus Books Group, New York, 1999, pp. 192.

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UPDATE:

Geez. The "please" of finding things out. Good gravy marie. Fixing the typo in the other entries....

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