Curious Tinkering

It’s a new year. Again. Often at this time of year, I find my thoughts turning to fundamentals, bedrocks, concepts and mechanisms I think I know about, but need to revisit. First, a little joke.

The condensed matter physics department of Umbrage University challenged God to a creation competition. “Our amazing subatomicparanucleicprogenitator is programmed with all possible DNA sequences and every conceivable atomic structure. We can create calling birds, French hens, cheese, gold rings, BMW’s  – anything you can name.”
“Make a gooseberry” said God.
“No problem,” said the physicists. “We just type ‘gooseberry’ in the database search and all the settings come up, put in some dirt, and click “create”…. how ripe do you want it?”
“Just a moment,” said God. “Get your own dirt….”
Whichever way we cut it, we’re only observers. We think we can make things; in reality all we can do is recycle. We are empiricists – any manufacturing – even curious tinkering only happens because we think we can be creative with raw material which has in reality been already given to us. There’s Promethean hubris here and arrogance beyond comprehension. The Large Hadron Collider produces spectacular images of exotic, short-lived particles. I wonder, could we fill a Mercedes-Benz with Semtex, blow it to pieces then painstakingly reconstruct its original dimensions from the fragments?
King Solomon was right. There is indeed ‘nothing new under the Sun’.
Put another way, from James Cameron’s new film ‘Avatar’ -“all energy is only borrowed and one day you have to give it back.”

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One thought on “Curious Tinkering

  1. I find it curious that the Collider is intended to unmask “The God Particle” in the universe. It seems strange to me, a child of theological absolutes, a rebel against fundatmentalist dogma, and a refugee from religious fanatacism, that scientists are looking for God in particles. I mean, as scientists, why are they looking for God at all? And would they recognize Him/Her if the particle actually existed?
    I am captivated by the thought that we are really only hacks, creatively. In every sphere we begin with something existent, rearrange it to suit ourselves, and present it to the world as “creation.”
    What if we all had to get our own “dirt”? Hmmm….

    Like

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