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[Phys-l] "Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of ..."



Dear Physics Colleagues

I'd like to propose a game, one I don't think we've played before on this list.

Despite what follows, I'm not interested in a debate on evolution in
this forum.  I just want to draw attention to two provocative
quotations, neither of which is without controversy (both quotes are
taken from Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution):

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin "(Evolution) is a general postulate to
which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow
and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true.
Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which
all lines of thought must follow — this is what evolution is."

Theodosius Dobzhansky "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the
light of evolution." (actually the title of his essay).

As I mentioned above, these statements are controversial and
debatable, and certainly provocative.  I'm not particularly equipped
to judge the merits of those positions.

I am interested to know if a similarly broad and powerful statement
could be proposed for physics, and what kinds of productive
conversations a similarly bold claim might provoke among us:

"Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of ___________." or

"(______) is a general postulate to which all theories, all
hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow and which they must
satisfy in order to be thinkable and true.  ________ is a light which
illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must
follow - this is what _____ is."

It might be that we play this game for certain subfields of physics:
"Nothing in thermodynamics makes sense except in the light of
__________" or "Nothing in classical electrodynamics makes sense
except in the light of _________", but I think it would be more fun if
we tried it as broadly as possible.  We might also want to play for
mathematics, or chemistry, or astronomy, or what have you.

I hope this might be interesting for some of you.  I will wait for a
few responses before introducing my suggestions.

sincerely,
Krishna

Krishna Chowdary
Faculty, Math & Physics
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA 98505