The alchemism of modern physics

In his international bestseller, A brief history of time, the most famous physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, stated that the last/final matryoshka doll in the field of Physics has been unpacked – Planck’s Constant. With this accomplished, he writes that the what of the Universe would thus soon be answered, automatically.

Because, from here, it follows that it would simply be a question of a “discussion” between “philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people… ” to unravel the why of the Universe/Existence – and once that has been done, “we would know the mind of God”.

But alas… were the whole caboodle only that simple.

A thought experiment: imagine a massive cosmic cataclysm, in our teeny tiny sector of the Universe, destroys all life on planet Earth, in an instant. Now the question: would the Rover Mars lander still exist, after said cosmic cataclysm… which killed us all?

Disciples of scientific realism would tend to say yes, because they believe in the existence of an “external reality”. Idealists, on the other hand, would tend to say no, because “reality” is seen as a “creation” of the human mind. This dichotomy in the hard sciences would, roughly, translate into the positivist-interpretivist paradigm in social science research – the famous battle lines of the infamous “paradigm wars” that have been raging since the mid-80s.

But alas, both abovementioned positions are right, or wrong… simultaneously. For if we are all dead, the very question – “does the Rover Mars lander still exist?” – can neither be posed, nor answered… for we are all (already) dead by then, remember? Yet is very safe to assume that it does indeed (still) exist, for people see other people die around them every day, and the world/existence/reality stays the same nonetheless, mostly. So, we could safely assume that the last living soul on this planet (before said cosmic cataclysm wipes him/her out) will know that the Rover Mars lander is still all forlorn, yet “real” on Mars. But, once s/he is no more, there is no certainty about its existence anymore.

This means that “knowledge of” is bound to “looking” (like said last person on Earth), not “knowing”. This is not unlike the famous Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment to explain the sheer complexity of the paradox underpinning quantum mechanics. In other words, an inevitable “two-state” state of “knowing” must be accepted. Ditto the existence of God – where faith is “looking”. The more knowledgeable reader will recognize Kantian (epis/-ontological) trancendental idealism, especially as it pertains to Husserl’s “intentionality-bound” phenomenology, at play here.

So, what does this all have to do with the (most) famous physicists of age? Well, it’s all about them dreaming/promising to finally determine only one “state of existence”, e.g. Hawking’s “knowing the mind of God”.

Hawking does indeed have an epis/-ontological “two-state” position… for as he wrote:

“Yet if there really is a complete unified theory, it would presumably determine our actions. And so the theory itself would determine the outcome of our search for it!”

Nudge nudge, equal-outcome Egalitarianism. But, be that as it may…

It means that he both holds onto a realist, as well as an idealist position. In other words, humans “created” the (ultimate) “truth”, i.e. scientific idealism/aestheticism, yet also “discovered” it… as in Platonic mathematics (scientific realism). But then, didn’t he promise that Planck’s Constant would “dissolve” one of these states, permanently?

Enter the film Interstellar – lauded and applauded by the likes of Hawking and Kip Thorne – the latter being the “science” advisor of the film. The plot line is very simple. A “dustbowl dystopia” (fatally) threatens humanity’s future. The protagonist, Cooper (and his trusted robot, TARS) are sent into space to save the physical existence of the human race. They, predictably, land up in the middle of a black hole – where TARS mysteriously, “discovers” (nudge nudge Platonic mathematics) the secret to (anti)gravity… thereby saving humanity. Now this is all fine and dandy, were it not for the alchemist nonsense when, after TARS has found the answer to (anti)gravity in the “external reality” of the black hole, it, TARS, answers Coop’s question: “How did they create it?”, with the answer: “You’ve created it.”

In other words, both “states” of the (final) Truth are accepted, yet Hawking’s matryoshka doll (Planck’s Constant) won the day, by “looking” into the box in which Schrödinger’s Cat “hides” – thus “dissolving” one of its states (of its being/existence).. and then we all lived in Lala Land afterwards.

Meaning that – apart from the huge elephant in the room, causality – modern physics simply hasn’t comprehended what the brilliant philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, has been trying to tell them since…

Ergo, modern physics is trying to have its (Utopian) cake – by “dissolving” the Cartesian Clock versus Quantum Theory paradigm – and eat it.

This is Alchemism, not Science.