Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Drift Toward Agnosticism

I used to be an avowed atheist; but now I tend toward a bizarre agnosticism. Six months ago I had what might be called an fuzzy epiphany. The vehicle for this philosophical questioning/awakening was Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.

When my younger son, Adam Smith Palmer, announced over a decade ago that he wanted to study astrophysics to help him understand the meaning of existence, I had no clue what he was talking about. But the explication by Greene helps me understand a bit more.
The essence of Greene's approach is super string theory; Craig Newmark has some excellent links to accessible material about this concept. The NYTimes ($ required because it is in their archive file) also published this helpful piece by Brian Greene back in April.

The principal idea of super string theory is that everything, matter and energy (and everything else conceivable), is composed of or the result of something called super strings, which are so infinitesimally tiny that no one can see them, but which many physicists believe exist; this belief is the result of some fancy math.

One implication of super string theory is that we live in an 11-dimensional bulk universe; three of these dimensions are spatial, one is time; those are the dimensions of the universe as we perceive it. But who knows what the other seven dimensions are. They are well beyond my comprehension, that's for sure.

A further implication is that our 4-dimensional "universe" is like a membrane [or 'brane] in the bulk universe of 11 dimensions. One possibility of our living in an 11-dimensional universe is that something or some things in the other seven dimensions could at times intervene in our 4-dimensional universe. And that possibility blows my mind.
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