Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Age of Entanglement

Here is a quote from the preface of "The Age of Entanglement", by Louisa Gilder,
one of the few books I have read lately from start to finish:

"Science rests of experiments," wrote Heisenberg, but "science is rooted in conversations."

Nothing could be further from the impression physics textbooks give to students. There, physics seems to be a perfect sculpture sitting in a vacuum-sealed case, as if brains, only tenuously connected to bodies, had given birth to insights fully formed...

Physics, in actuality, is a never-ending search made by human beings...The schoolbook simplifications obscure the crooked, strange and fascinating paths that stretch out from each idea, not only back into the past but onwards into the future...

Conversations are essential to science. But the off-the-cuff nature of conversation poses a difficulty. It is rare, even in these digital times, to have a complete transcript of every word spoken between two people on a given day, even if that conversation someday leads to a new understanding of the world. The result is that history books rarely have much of the to-and-fro of human interaction. Heisenberg's statement suggests that something is therefore lost.

Being part of the Python world via its many conversations is one of my life's great joys.

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