January 25, 1917 – May 28, 2003
Ilya Prigogine, a Russian-born Belgian Jew, won his Nobel in Chemistry, but what got our attention was the assertion he made in his book, "The End of Certainty". Prigogine states that "the more we know about our universe, the more difficult it becomes to believe in determinism".
What does it mean? You know the laws that we think govern the world? Those formulas the crusty old teacher tried to drill into your head in physics class? They all made sense, didn't they?
Well, they did, until you got to quantum mechanics. And that made sense, too, until general relativity. And then you get into quarks. Those are just the things we know. Or we THINK we know.
Prigogine's point is that every time we come up with an equation to define something, that is rendered moot when our knowledge expands. So, basically:
We can't know ANYTHING.
Good to know.
January 7, 2015