Some damned little arrows on a piece of paper
November 8, 2008 Leave a comment
Richard Feynman warns in QED that he cannot help the reader understand the theory of quantum electrodynamics. This is because he doesn’t understand it himself. All he can do is draw arrows on a paper and ask us to accept that this is how nature works.
How is this different from religion and pseudo-science? Religion and pseudo-science makes intuitive sense, but is uncomfirmed by experiments. It makes sense that like should affect like, and that we’re surrounded by spirits and gods, but there’s no evidence for it. Quantum electrodynamics is well supported by evidence, but makes no intuitive sense. And there is no reason why it should.
The point of reading about things you can’t understand is to feel the shape of it. What is the theory like? How do scientists think? How do they argue? Then when you read a theory you actually can understand you may recognize that it has the wrong shape. Knowing quantum electrodynamics is pointless. Knowing the shape of real science is not.
Also, science is fun, and even more so when it is Richard Feynman that explains it.