Posts From Author: quantum mechanics

The Great Unknown: Marcelo Gleiser and the Limits of Science

We must recognise that because of the very nature of human inquiry every age has its unknowables. The question we need to address, then, is whether certain unknowables are here to stay or whether they can be dealt with in due course. Must every question have an answer? — Marcelo Gleiser Picture an island. The ocean, in all directions, stretches to the horizon. The island is what we know and understand of the universe. The ocean recedes and advances unevenly around the coastline as we learn more, subsuming what turned out to be false and revealing new land when a new “truth” is affirmed. This is the central metaphor in Marcelo Gleiser‘s endlessly fascinating The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning (Basic Books, 2014). In this free-ranging, accessible account of what we know, how we came to know it, and what we can maybe never know, Gleiser reveals wonders both cosmic and quantum. Although its subtitle, “The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning,” may sound defeatist, The Island of Knowledge is instead inspiring. It’s a tribute to the extraordinary enterprise of the world’s scientists and philosophers over the last few millennia. It’s a paean to our […]
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Quantum Mechanics, Walk With Me: On Interpreting David Lynch

Books about film directors fall broadly into three categories: biographical, industrial (behind the scenes), and theoretical. David Lynch, an artist whose experiments in popular surrealism have seen him move in and out of public favour and critical acclaim, is a director whose oeuvre repays thoughtful work in all three. Two new books — Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, by Brad Dukes (short/Tall Press, 2014), and David Lynch Swerves: Uncertainty from Lost Highway to Inland Empire, by Martha P. Nochimson (University of Texas Press, 2013, recently out in paperback) — are cases in point. Reflections is a dogged book, a remarkable example of what fanatical devotion to research can produce. Dukes tells the story of Lynch and Mark Frost’s game-changing television show (“this sublime mayhem” in Michael Ontkean’s phrase) from the first kernel of an idea through its initial runaway success to its cancellation and the critical savaging received by prequel movie Fire Walk With Me (1992). He’s interviewed dozens of actors, directors and production team members, including almost all the main cast (though Lynch himself is silent). The attention to detail is extraordinary. Casting sessions and individual days of filming are recalled. There’s an interview with the co-founder of COOP […]
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