Fundamentalist physics

1 August 2006

Reading a philosophy of science book, I ran across the same shopworn premise that physics is the most fundamental science. Okay. I appreciate the structure of scientific heirarchy and the ubiquity of laws that make physics a nifty tool for quantifying the universe. I don’t have enough maths to fully appreciate the grace with which it models almost any aspect of the universe you’d care to name, but I respect the testimony of those who do.

But.

Even leaving aside the stuff Bob Park just said about the inscrutability of quantum physics, I am essentially unmoved. I just don’t see how, whether the Cosmos is Newtonian or non-, being able to image electron orbitals with a laser can affect the war between Israel and Hezbollah. How can physics be so damn fundamental if it doesn’t answer the really hard questions?

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