Friday, February 16, 2007

String Theory, the Penrose Triangle, and Existentialism

So Tom and I walk into the house this evening and we're greeted by this trade from Aleks:

"OK, so you know string theory (um, no...)? This is freaking me out! (Blank stare from me.) See, string theory combines the theory of relativity with the theory of quantum mechanics to combine into a world with finite laws that can be broken. (Makes sense; I'm fine with that...) He goes on to rant about the possibility of there being eleven dimensions (entirely possible, says I...), or possibly even 26 dimensions (gasp!). That possibility, combined with the tenets of existentialism means, it seems, that our lives are meaningless. "Valuable, but meaningless," he says.


And the Penrose Triangle... there's no way it can exist in reality. (OK, I'm fine with that... so let's just draw it.)

Then his cell phone rings. It's Dani! His expression suddenly changes from an angry existentialist philosopher bearing the weight of the world to a joyful 17-year-old in love.


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1 comment:

vailian said...

Lovely! There was a terrific New Yorker article recently on string theory (I have had a subscription since I was about 9 and for many years SAVED the damn things, altho I guess some of them would be quite valuable now...). He just has to remember that it is all very theoretical and even highly controversial (there are many mathematicians convinced that it is complete rubbish) and because it is so utterly abstreuse it is possible to talk about it in a knowing way without having to understand it, because no one understands it anyhow!

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