06-04-2014 | Intermittent Signals

"With the seemingly unlimited expansion of his material might, man finds himself in the position of a captain whose ship has been so securely built of iron and steel that the needle of his compass no longer points to the north, but only toward the ship's mass of iron. With such a ship no destination can be reached; it will move aimlessly and be subject in addition to winds and ocean currents. But lets us remember the state of affairs in modern physics: the danger only exists so long as the captain is unaware that his compass does not respond to the Earth's magnetic forces. The moment the situation is recognized, the danger can be considered as half removed. For the captain who does not want to travel in circles, but desires to reach a known -- or unknown -- destinations will find ways and means for determining the orientation of the ship.

Perhaps from this comparison with modern science we may draw hope that we may be here dealing with a limit for certain forms of expansion of human activity, not, however, with a limit to human activity as such. The space in which man as a spiritual being is developing has more dimensions than the one within which he was moved in the preceding centuries. If follows that in the course of long stretches of time the conscious acceptance of this limit will perhaps lead to a certain stabilization in which the thoughts of men will again arrange themselves against a common center. Such a development may perhaps also supply a new foundation for the development of art; but to speak about that does not behoove the scientist."

-- Werner Heisenberg, The Representation of Nature in Contemporary Physics

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