posted on May, 8 2010 @ 07:47 PM
Greetings everyone. Nick here. I'll start off by telling you all a little bit about myself and follow up with what lead me to this website. I have
a feeling that the story of how I found myself here will break the intro forum rule about avoiding an introductory thread with a specific topic, but
hopefully whichever moderator checks this post will find my inquiry interesting enough to resist the temptation to destroy it.
I believe that characteristics of mine most relevant to this community can best be shared through a discussion of my academic history and the schism
that it opened, or perhaps revealed, in my psyche. So here goes. I have just received my bachelor's of science in physics and plan to continue on
to graduate study next year with the goal of becoming a professor somewhere. My current area of interest is high energy (particle) physics. Suffice
it to say that I have a natural tendency towards analyzing experience logically and sometimes even rationally.
My years of undergraduate study trained me in the scientific method and the process of building theories in the language of mathematics upon which to
use it. While I am not yet a true physicist of any measure, I believe that the experience of immersing myself (admittedly only half-heartedly for a
stretch) in the most fundamental of empirical sciences leaves me somewhat qualified to speak up in debates concerning the strength and, ultimately,
the usefulness of science. I emphasize the idea that it is the most fundamental of empirical sciences. This is not in order to give myself an ego
boost or to belittle any individuals belonging to a different order of scientists. In fact, due to its fundamental nature, physics becomes much too
burdensome to wield while solving many practical problems in areas such as chemistry and biology. Physical theory, in particular numerical
approximations made useful through computers (even the semiconductors used in the logic circuits of our computers were realized by physicists), has
been applied to fundamental chemistry as well as biology at the molecular level to great success. However, without the models provided by the
previously independent fields physics would have had no place to attach itself.
But attach itself it did, and though the practice of physics seems to be an exercise in investigating its own never ending explanatory deficiencies,
it now appears as if the entire quantifiable realm of our existence can be explained, at the "deepest" level, through a relatively small collection
of mathematical statements. I am not sure what this means. The mastery over our surroundings and bodies that this has given us is impressive in its
own right, to be sure. Results of painstaking work carried out by generations of scientists have become as crucial to human society and individual
experience as hunting and gathering once were.
Still... I am not sure what this means. Mathematical equations will never be able to adequately describe the color red to me. They may be able to
explain the spatial and temporal properties of "red" light. They may even be able to explain what neurological impulses are sent throughout my
brain upon "seeing red". These equations can say nothing of what it "is like" to see a red stripe upon a canvas. They are equally useless for
telling me why I "enjoy" the melodic and rhythmic patterns found in music that suits my taste. It is certainly interesting that there is a simple
relationship between the mathematical description of the pressure waves of two harmonic tones, but in my opinion there is quite a difference between
the theory describing harmony and the perception of it.
Continued below.... please refrain from posting until I finish if you would, I am going to keep writing on the fly rather than preparing both posts a