TED Conversations

Graihagh Jackson

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Will science ever tell us everything there is to know?

Every day on the news, you read of break throughs, discoveries and new findings in science. But I wonder whether one day mankind will ever be able to know everything there is to know - why the universe (or indeed multiverse) exists; why laws themselves exist; and so forth.

As science moves onwards and upwards, are there any barriers that could stop us in having a theory of everything?


Closing Statement from Graihagh Jackson

I think some of the really central points made here is that to be able to know everything, means we have to be able to measure everything. Will we ever be able to measure everything? It seems unlikely. Besides, how would we ever know we knew everything? Absolute truth is unattainable and at any rate, the nature of human curiousity will inevitably mean we will continue to search for 'truths.' It seems that the majority post and comments on this debate was no - science won't tell us everything we need to know.

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    Jan 20 2014: I will add to the debate, not sure if my addition will be of any use, but here we go...
    To know, implies to measure. To measure, we need an instrument and an observer. The observer has a direct impact on that which is observed. Moreover, the measuring is always behind, lagging, in relations to the changing nature of things. By the time we measure something, it has already changed. There may be some laws that are immutable, but change will always result in a different measurement. Even the speed of light may not be constant http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/studies-discover-speed-of-light-may-not-be-constant/story-fn5fsgyc-1226608322044
    So, why do we need to know everything in the first place? Or can we marvel at the whole experience of living, know what is basic and functional, and allow the rest to remain veiled in the mystery of it all?
    • Jan 20 2014: So, why do we need to know everything in the first place?
      That's the real question :)
      To think that we put this idea in our mind by themselves , means that we are two with nature , but we are not, though we have this persistent illusion.
      So, from where could we possibly get this idea ?
      As for the rest, i am on board :)

      Thank you !
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        Jan 20 2014: Being 'two' with nature - I think it comes from seeing the outside world as "objective" and the inner world as "subjective" - is that an illusion?

        We all have a thirst for knowledge and although we don't 'need' to know everything, curiosity is one of those lingering desires.

        As Friedrich Nietzsche might have argued, maybe a 'theory of everything' is a: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_to_power
        • Jan 21 2014: is that an illusion?


          "We all have a thirst for knowledge and although we don't need to know everything..."

          May i suggest you to replace ' don't need' with 'can't in order to have more realistic picture ? :) We are thirsty because it's not knowledge we need but knowing.
          ' will to power' is a function of ignorance, and i don't mean 'lack of knowledge' but the absence of knowing.

          Thanks for responding !
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        Jan 22 2014: Absolutely, I agree we can't know everything - it's that 'knowing', that essence of 'certainty' that science gives. What I mean to say is that our curiosity about the unknown and our will to illuminate it is not something wholly rational. It's embedded within us and it precedes the scientific method.

        To quote Hans-Georg Gadamer: "My real concern is philosophic: not what we do or what we ought to do, but what happens to us over and above our wanting and doing" - parallels the free will vs. determinism debate.

        I don't think science will tell us everything there is to know because not everything can be observed, analysed and reduced to it's underlying laws as tangible objects/phenomena can.

        There are domains of human experience (interpretation, intuition, emotion etc.) that are highly subjective and value-based - that's why psychology and sociology are such "impure" sciences.

        Another relevant quote: "Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve." - Max Planck
        • Jan 22 2014: Hi Lachlan

          I have never read anything that allies so much with my own thoughts, and which serves to provide some degree of reassurance, in the face of this iniquitous world.

          Extremely well put/written

          Cheers Carl
        • Jan 23 2014: "Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve." -
          To put it simply, what Max Planck meant is that the measurement "did something" to the process under examination.
          And here :
          "My real concern is philosophic: not what we do or what we ought to do, but what happens to us over and above our wanting and doing" -
          And here :
          Natural science, does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.
          Werner Heisenberg

          Probably it's time to start to question the doctrine of objectivity.
          Good luck ! :)
          And thank you for sharing !
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      Jan 21 2014: You speak very clearly and right to the point. Very Rare Treat.
    • Jan 21 2014: Hi Johnney Atman

      The Speed of light is not constant

      The A to B straight linear speed of light as measured within Earth's gravitational field, is the energy of the photons speed, subject to the force/weight (energy) of gravity; and the traction of the density of the medium it is traveling through.

      Which is why light travels faster through a vacuum than air, and faster through air than water, and faster through water than glass. And therefore it follows, that light will travel faster through interstellar space than as measured here on Earth.

      What is more, the speed of light is not 300 000 km's per second, as measured in a straight linear direction between two A-B fixed points.

      The speed of light is the speed that a photon travels, over the curvatures/"distance length" of its wavelength (IMO spiraling length) curvatures, as measured between two A-B fixed points; in interstellar space free of any nearby gravitational fields/traction.

      Cheers Carl
  • Dan F 50+

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    Jan 19 2014: I'd like to examine your question to reflect my sense of how science is misperceived by the vast majority of the public and why that is significant.

    Why many of us find science so appealing is that it doesn't TELL us anything.

    We were TOLD how thing are as we were raised into our teens by grownups. What we learned as we grew up is a matter of being directed on how to behave and think as a matter of practicality and tradition. Let's face it, raising kids takes considreable time, effort and authority. This transfered indoctrinating behavior can be stifling and self perpetuating on the basis that it works so well.

    In order to LEARN from scientific evidence, it is necessary to be personally receptive by being open to what this evidence can REVEAL about physical reality. The independent nature of curiosity is why so many of us are and were attracted to science and find it nourishing despite the obvious conflicts that can arise from how we were brought up.

    The modern era influence of science and the application of that new knowledge is beyond mind-boggling - it has changed almost every aspect of our lives and with the benifits come the costs. Despite that fact there are significant mysteries associated the the physical world's makeup and much of this knowledge continues to be allusive, it will be pursued by the idealists as well as those seeking fame, and fortune.

    My personal concern has less to do with learning more about these mysteries than our actual and potential growing application of existing and blooming scientific knowledge.

    Our natural history confines and defines what we are as organic beings as illuminated by the science of biology, conversely our more free floating cultural evolution has allowed us to expand our existence and to some extent escape this reality, at least in our perception of how we "see" the "real" world via our incredible human ability to be so creative, but ultimately we are subject to our own deceit and enterprise.
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      Jan 20 2014: "Our natural history confines and defines what we are as organic beings as illuminated by the science of biology, conversely our more free floating cultural evolution has allowed us to expand our existence and to some extent escape this reality, at least in our perception of how we 'see' the 'real' world via our incredible human ability to be so creative, but ultimately we are subject to our own deceit and enterprise."

      Thank you for experessing your original view, Dan.
      • Dan F 50+

        • +1
        Jan 20 2014: Thanks for the honor of the quote of my view.
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          Jan 20 2014: True pleasure. The most wonderful treat for me is to find independent thoughts, like yours.
          I will read your post again. Please write more…
    • Jan 20 2014: It's what QM says and defines as a measurement problem;
      The observed,
      The tools that are used in observation
      The observer itself
      are ONE.
      The main argument for the scientific doctrine of objectivity is the sophisticated useful toys it has created and the capacity to make predictions that do work.
      But if we think about the reality we currently inhabit as being created with our active mind participation, not a big surprise that we have beams on our vehicles.:)
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts !
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        Jan 20 2014: Werner Heisenberg was the most outstanding philosopher of our postmodern time. However, he is still scarcely recognized as a philosopher. In my science college neither students nor teachers paid any attention to his grand lesson: no observer is able to see anything objectively - every observer unavoidably effects/changes whatever he observes.

        This timeless Heisenberg's wisdom, if somehow comprehended, will wonderfully benefit our recycling mentality in sciences, ethics, and social structures. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment, Natasha.
        • Jan 21 2014: “The reality we can put into words is never reality itself.”

          If Heisenberg was/is not a philosopher, i don't know what philosophy is :)

          Thank you for responding, Vera !
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          Jan 23 2014: Good point,

          It still perturbs me how many people believe that their is this massive gulf between philosophy and science. It's almost impossible to have one without the other.
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        Jan 22 2014: Natasha, you wrote "If Heisenberg was/is not a philosopher, i don't know what philosophy is "

        I wished I could have said this myself!

        Hope to talk to you soon.

        (Regarding our human-made language - you might know this rare book by Bruce Gregory, astrophysicist, "Inventing Reality", Physics as Language. So refreshing to read what this scientist himself thinks…)
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    Jan 18 2014: Sciences can only prove its own observations by artificially conditioned, repetitive setups in labs. Sciences are not able to prove any sort of reality as it is for great many reasons. I'm not saying that some other fields of knowledge and religion might prove anything Beyond our own human impressions of our experience.

    Our perceptions are not at all "designed" to reflect or prove objective reality - this is a new field of knowledge we have been missing.

    Our consciousness has no slightest progress for millennia, but it becomes more obese gulping information we cannot digest. No matter how well we may augment our sight, Scientific information is forever relying on this old extremely limited and ephemeral sense-perception of sight.

    We shall revise and reevaluate our mindless trust in "scientific information" and figure out where it comes from.

    When Saadiq suggests a common explanation "The answer to this question lies in the analysis of the Scientific Method." we shall be aware of this "simple" commonness. It is very important to analyze what this "Scientific Method" really means. So far the best answer describing this "Method" is this

    "All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
    Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Sciences along with postmodern philosophy are recycling around a math Logic, full of crude mistakes and ridiculous conclusions

    Some day our postmodern arrogance will become a pitiful sight for the next generation if it (the latter) would not be as arrogant as us to ask such a question "Can sciences give us the world ?"

    One crucial fact shall be considered here - the most grand discoveries have been made by the minds driven by Intuition and highly emotional curiosity.
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    Jan 16 2014: There is no method in which we will know everything. In fact we might not know anything. We dig deep, but deep is never deep enough. If we did know everything the world would be boring, because there would be no curiosity, or experimentation.
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      Jan 18 2014: In order to truly know "everything" we must Become Everything.
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        Jan 20 2014: we are connected to everything, but will not become it.
        If we become everything we will not be anything
        If we are not anything, we know not one thing
        If we know not one thing we think not one thing
        But at the same time we think everything
        If we were able to turn into everything, we would no longer have the desire to know it
        On the other hand even if we were everything, we would not know it, because some do not know themselves
        Who are we?
        What are we?
        How do we play an important role in the universe?
        Do we?
        Why are we here?
        Questions, that are mighty hard to answer. If not impossible,
        but if impossible isn't possible, then anything is possible.
        What makes impossible possible?
        A mixture of play on words, and true curiosity.
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          Jan 20 2014: Hello Hannah. I do like what you've said

          "If we were able to turn into everything, we would no longer have the desire to know it
          On the other hand even if we were everything, we would not know it.."

          Sounds like poetry.

          My thought on Why we Have to be Limited. If we are not LIMITED in every way we would not be able to exist as individual living forms. Absolutely unlimited, we would melt down into everything else, instantly. We would not be able to exist as original, different from others, Selves.
  • Feb 5 2014: It depends on what your definition of is is.
    • Feb 5 2014: It depends on what you definition of is isn't as well.
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    Jan 16 2014: There are always new theories over the horizon, and science rushes towards them. Its a race to infinity, as long as people think about new things.
  • Jan 11 2014: Why/how the Universe exists

    In order for some-thing to exist, no-thing must exist; in order for both to exist, as an Infinite (Physical Energy Cycle) and Eternal (Nothingness and Metaphysical Energy = Space) Co Existence.

    Fundamental law of the Universe is "Energy may be converted but it cannot be destroyed": Therefore the energy of the Universe “is” Infinite & Eternal; and therefore “it is” an infinite and eternal, cyclic continuum, of energy conversions.

    Given a drawn Circle: The 360 and 0 point (Alpha & Omega) are one and the same, and can be positioned anywhere on the circle: Therefore a circle has no beginning, nor ending, as its beginning is its ending, and it’s ending is its beginning.

    Now imagine that the 360 represents the Sun and the 0 represents a photon; The Sun goes Nova and is converted into EMS particles; the EMS particles re - coalesce, and eventually become a Sun again. Thus there is no state of zero energy (numbers), as there is no disconnection between 360 and 0, because they are one and the same energy cycle.

    Imagine the same scenario; but this time the circle is in the form of a Mobius Strip; which is made by fixing the two ends of a strip of paper together, after giving one end a half twist: And what you now have is, no state of zero energy (numbers), no state of direction (numbers), and a permanent state of infinite energy.

    And just to make matters more complex; imagine making the Mobius strip not from a strip of paper; but a solid round rubber ring; cut through at 360 & 0, and the half twist turned 1 degree at a time. And what you now have is, no state of zero, no directions, and a permanent and simultaneous state, of multiple energy dimensions, travelling into, and away from, infinity holistically.

    The sciences will not tell us everything, as their Euclidean linear thinking, and their assumption based hypothesis only serve to confuse, and lead us astray. Empirical" science + Personal Philosophizing, is the way to go

    Cheers Carl
  • Feb 9 2014: No.
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    Feb 9 2014: The more we come to know, the more we realise how much more there is to know.

    I don't believe science can tell us everything simply due to scientific tendency to dismiss that which science cannot explain.
  • Feb 9 2014: From "The Science of Discworld" - "Science is not about building a body of known 'facts'. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good."
  • Feb 8 2014: Science has not been able to prove without a doubt that communication with the dead is not possible. Tesla said "The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence." What do you think about those that claim to communicate with the dead?
  • Feb 6 2014: Context of a Degree

    A degree is a designated fractional measurement unit applied to;

    The ratio of;

    1. Length Horizontal = Lateral Flat Baseline
    2. Height Perpendicular = Vertical to Flat Baseline
    3. Diagonal Angular to a Right Angle e.g. a Hypotenuse
    4. Curvature Terminal Result of Three Angles
    5. Circumference Three Diameters
    6. Plane Depth Graduation

    The ratio of

    Relative amount
  • Feb 1 2014: Entropy Driven.

    It was the Sumerians who first defined that a circle is 3 x its diameter; "1500 years before Archimedes stuffed it up" ref to Enc -Britannica "Geometry; Estimating the Wealth".

    The simple arithmetic; to finding the exact length, and square area of a circle; I define as follows.

    A 120cm diameter x 3 = a Circle 360cm long, with each degree measuring 1cm in length

    A 120cm diameter x 4 = a square 480cm long, with each right angle measuring 120cm in length

    A 120cm diameter x 120cm diameter = 14, 400 square centimeters to the square of the diameter

    A 14, 400 sq centimeter square divide by 4 = 3, 600 square centimeters

    3, 600 square cm x 3 = 10, 800 square centimeters to the area of the Circle


    60 cm radius to the Circle squared = 60 square centimeters x 60 square centimeter = 3, 600 square centimeters

    3, 600 square centimeters x 3 = 10, 800 square centimeters to the Circle

    Ergo: The Area of A Circle

    Is 3 x that of the area of the radius of a Circle, Squared

    Tri x r2

    Elementary enough? as using just elementary arithmetic, I can also calculate the exact areas of ovals; and the surface area and volumes of a cylinder and sphere; which Archimedes could only approximate, as he failed to take into account and deduct the thickness, of his drawn lines.

    Diameter length of his cylinder 7 units x 3 = 21 units; + 1/7th (Of 1 diameter 1/21)= 22/7 due to the thickness of his drawn lines

    Pi is approximate, as he failed to recognize the symmetry of the Circle; can be divided by any "whole' number into that number of identical parts.

    Perhaps you would also like to try Pythagorus Theorem" which has 367 proofs as to its exactitude; however

    Given a right angle with a base line of 12 squares, and a vertical of 12 squares, the hypotenuse measures 17 squares, and the area of the square on the hypotenuse is 289 squares

    And the sum of the 2 squares on the other 2 sides, is 288 squares = 1 square less.

    And I challenge anyone to disprove, this arithmetic
    • Feb 1 2014: There's nothing to disprove.

      Maybe it was the Sumerians and the Bible guys stole it from them. Whatever, it is still wrong. Again, elementarily wrong. The circumference is diameter times pi, not diameter times 3.

      In case you did not know, pi is not exactly 3. Consult your elementary school books if you don't believe me.

      I would think that with all the convoluted thoughts you are able to put into your mind you would have understood that simple problem with your arithmetics.

      Edit: I wrote this below, but in case you missed it:

      As per 1 to 3 in circles. False. I measured many circles and diameters myself. Three diameters never cover the whole circle. Elementary geometry can show this unambiguously. If you grab the radius with a drafting compass, and then put the foot of the compass anywhere in the perimeter and draw a line where the painting side touches the same circumference, then use that line for the foot and draw one further, etc, when you reach your way back you have exactly six lines. Each line would be at the same distance from each other. In a straight line this distance is the radius. Since this would draw an hexamer INSIDE the circle, touching the perimeter exactly six times, and since the radius is half the diameter, we have an inscribed hexamer that has a total perimeter of three times the diameter. Since it is INSIDE the circle, the perimeter of the circle cannot but be more than three times the diameter. Pi is not a mistake. It's elementary.

      See: http://mathonthemckenzie.blogspot.ca/2012/02/regular-hexagon-inscribed-in-circle.html


  • Jan 31 2014: Once again I say no

    And it really baffles me, how people continue to confuse knowledge, with intelligence, and confuse science with being some kind of god, genius, or mastermind.

    The question being asked IS:

    "Will science ever tell us everything there is to know" and the answer to this question lies in the source, of who it is, or what it is, that is asking the question.

    Is it science that is asking, or seeking an answer to this question? "NO" it is not:

    It is the combination of the overall interactions of the metaphysical thought processes of all of us, who are involved in a question and answer deductive process (conversation) of analysis, aimed at seeking, and providing an answer to the question.

    And the empirical realm of the sciences, of themselves or combined; have nothing whatsoever to do with the answering of the question; because they "the sciences" are the "subject" of the question;

    And the subject of the question, is subjective to each of our individual metaphysical thoughts/reasoning processes; and all of our metaphysical thoughts/reasoning processes combined = our conversation.

    In sum: Science is a word we use to encompass various branches of human investigation, and ..."Discovery"...; but any and all discoveries remain "meaningless and useless" without the metaphysical thought processes of the discoverer, observer, scientist, or others, being applied to interpret and give meaning to the discovery; however as has been witnessed in many court rooms, the interpretations of one scientist may conflict with those of another; because all discoveries, are subjective to our metaphysical reasoning, educational bent, assumptions, and beliefs, not vis-a-vis.

    Therefore it follows, that the scope of everything that there is to know = understand, resides within the metaphysical realms of our philosophies; not within the realm of the empirical/physical sciences of themselves;

    Intelligence - imagination - philosophy, are not rocket science, full stop.
  • Comment deleted

    • Jan 31 2014: Hi Brendon

      I will remain polite, and say IMO;

      Large brain, left brain, right brain, mid brain, brain stem, medulla oblongata, whatever; it ain’t me, no more so than the hard drive files/memory of my computer, are the computer.

      Because the hard drive is of no use whatsoever, without its Ram/Sensory input of data; which requires the intelligence of me, who sat in front of the computer and put the memory files onto the hard drive; which is of no use whatsoever, without an intelligence accessing it, in order to make use of its memory files.

      Quote: The left brain itself is the main barrier to developing/comprehending a Theory of Everything, which can only be understood via our holistic, synthesizing right brains. Problem: Our right brain is non-verbal and depends on our verbal, two-dimensional left brain to communicate its deep wisdom.

      Is this empirical science? Your Theory? – Regardless: I wonder if;

      Parrots – Monkeys – Dolphins – Octopi (All very intelligent creatures) are like us, in having synthesizing right brains; which are non-verbal; and which depend on their verbal, two-dimensional left brain, to communicate their deep perceptions of wisdom.

      Slight problem; the first three do have an audial non-verbal communication, the fourth does not. However all four do have wisdom, because based upon experience in the face of a large predator; they are wise enough to skedaddle.

      The brain is comprised of neurone transmitters of thoughts, and memory storage areas/facilities; that trigger reflexive actions in relation to stimuli from the external environment = RAM: And there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that serves to demonstrate, that the brain of itself, is responsible for a single original thought.

      And to the contrary, both my brain and my body could be kept alive, and happily ticking over on a life support machine (CNS - Autonomic System - Stand in), despite my having previously met with an accident; and as a result “nobody” “me” “I am”; is not home

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    Jan 27 2014: NO !!!!
    this is because we are used to think with aspects of BEGIN and END
    science can suggest what happened in the beginning and what will happen in the end
    but the question of what happened before and what will happen after will remain unanswered for ever
  • Jan 24 2014: This question seems to imply that science is the only way to gain "true" knowledge of the universe. This also implies that all other forms used by mankind to gain knowledge must be defunct and yet how is it possible to deny that the outstanding works of art in music, sculpture, philosophy, painting, fiction, etc etc. All of these accomplishments not only mean that there are other and varied ways of understanding the universe but that science, because of its inability to encompass and comprehend these aspects of the universe lacks something that is needed to be the one way to understand the world.
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    Jan 24 2014: I don't think it's possible for humans to know everything there is to know because the universe is too vast, time is infinite, and we are too short lived and small by comparison.
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    Jan 22 2014: Hello Graihagh,
    I LOVE your profile pic....I LOVE flowers:>)

    I believe the only "barrier" that could stop scientific exploration from continuing, is if all humans were no longer curious, which does not seem like a probability. Curiosity is one of the underlying factors which motivates exploration, and I believe humans will continue to explore on deeper and deeper levels, so science will provide information at different times and different levels, and there will always be more to explore:>)
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      Jan 23 2014: Thank you - bluebells remind me the woods near my home.

      Your sentiments remind me of a brilliant (and rather surprising) quote from a theoretical physicist called Laura Mersini Houghton.

      At about 2.30 minutes into this video, she something quite poetic. Something along the lines of " the moment we understand everything, it will be the end of humanity"

      In a way, very true.
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        Jan 23 2014: I have them in my gardens Graihagh, many varieties grow wild and cultivated, and are all very lovely:>)

        Thanks for the link to the debate. My perception for myself, is that the human adventure is for the purpose of learning, growing and evolving as an individual, while contributing to the whole. So, I agree with Laura, that if we understand everything, there probably is not much purpose for the human life experience.

        When people think they "know", they often stop exploring, and get "stuck" in what they think they "know". For me personally, to stop exploring with curiosity, means that I have stopped truly living.
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          Jan 23 2014: do you believe in god, colleen? If god understands everything, is there any purpose for god's existence?
        • Jan 24 2014: Hi Colleen

          Re your post quote: Thanks for the link to the debate. My perception for myself, is that the human adventure is for the purpose of learning, growing and evolving as an individual, while contributing to the whole. So, I agree with Laura, that if we understand everything, there probably is not much purpose for the human life experience.

          A little over 2000 years ago, it was called "The Way" however it could equally have been called "The Why"; or for that matter "The Quest".

          Cheers Carl
  • Jan 22 2014: "everything there is to know" is poorly identified and therefore a significant discussion concerning it is not possible. There is something faintly paradoxical about suggesting an 'everything to know' when we don't know it.

    If there was an 'everything to know' it would necessarily be inexplicable because we explain A in terms of B where B is not A. In science we explain the real world in terms of quantum mechanics and we explain quantum mechanics in terms of the real world. And when we try to explain quantum mechanics as itself realistic we produce self referential nonsense. (cf. We don't see light - our seeing is mediated by light!)

    The question asks whether SCIENCE will tell us everything there is to know. This could be an invitation to discuss the means and methods of acquiring knowledge.

    Supposing we did know this nebulous "everything there is to know" - what is the questioner suggesting this would mean? The point of asking is to draw attention to the issue of what knowledge actually is and what it does.

    Biology makes it clear that language consists of real tokens that are shared between a group of communicators. If enough criteria are met the communicators will apply the emotion of understanding to those tokens. Language/communication is a biological instrument, so to speak. So what could it possibly mean to suggest that these communicators know everything???? We can't know everything because to communicate everything about everything in the universe would require more material than the universe possesses.

    An interesting question to ask, by contrast, is: To what extent is the universe summarisable in language?

    Other interesting questions include:
    What can language achieve in the universe?

    To what extent can the real as we know it support language that is useful beyond the limits of our perception?

    Can we abstract/generalise perception and communication to produce systems of knowledge beyond our own physical abilities?
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    Jan 21 2014: The key of science is suspicion, and suspicions brings curiosity. Suspicions will exist forever, and it will move people forward to discover things that are attractive in the moment.

    And,as Decartes said so, while you are thinking you are existing (Cogito ergo sum)-while you are thinking, you are suspicious, curious, and ready to find out something new. So while the man kind exists, we will have theory for everything.

    You can see it in the early theories of what is the fire, thunder, all the natural phenomena that was unexplainable, all of them were explained someway by people.
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      Jan 22 2014: Interesting point about how in the history of science we have explained things away - we still do - dark energy and dark matter which make up 80% of the universe and we know next to nothign about them. But surely if people will always be supicious and therefore curious, we will never have a theory of everything - constantly challenging what we 'know'.
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        Jan 22 2014: Theory is the theory because it represents one of possible meanings for phenomenon. The difference between those theories is level of your knowledge about it. ( compare ancient theories of universe and modern theories, that are formed on the different level of knowledge). That's why there is a plenty of theories about universe, but neither of them are surely proved . And, as you said so,it's challenging, but on that challenging, scientists find out a lot of irrefutable science facts.
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          Feb 3 2014: I'm not sure you could say that any facts are refuteable. Science will never be able to prove anything to be true, only falsified, until a new piece of data eventually shows it to be wrong. Some might even go as far to argue that the 'truth' depends on who you are. i.e. A religious person may say God exists and that's a fact, but an atheist may say God does not exist and that's a fact...
  • Jan 21 2014: Interesting question...

    I think that, logically speaking, the answer is no...
    even if the human kind will find out everything there is to know, it wouldn't know it.
    It won't be able to know if this is the limit of knowledge or that there are more things to know.
    • Jan 21 2014: Hi Meidan

      Logically speaking, I know you are absolutely correct

      For every answer (not theoretical none-senses) that science accomplishes; an unknown multitude! of questions will always remain unanswered.

      Cheers Carl
  • Jan 21 2014: The Meaning of Life

    Please tell me; did you know prior to your birth what colour you would be; did you know to what tribe, race, culture, or family you were to be born into: A baby is a document waiting to be written, a story to unfold, a black and white negative to be developed (nurtured) and each is unique unto itself.

    Each life is an adventure, within a vast and wonderful Universe, both infinite and eternal. Each unfolding story is of each individual’s decision making and choosing.

    All of lives stories, adventures, myths, legends, religions, all spring from one original source, the life source. All must finally return to the source, for that is the source of all things, and its name is Love.

    You as much as any other child sprang from that same source, so you and all humankind are of the same origin. You and many like you, instead of looking for the greater number of similarities between humankind. You look for the dissimilarities, and you look upon these with arrogance, disdain, and worse hatred.

    Know you, that the life source is equal in both peace and anger (Balanced). So be aware that you may be promoted in one, but destroyed by the other.

    Look you, to the beauty of an autumn’s fallen golden leaf, the perfection and perfume of a bright red rose. Look to the strangeness and age of those ancient gnarled huge trees. Look to the stars and see and feel the all-encompassing glory of the heavens above. Then you will know tranquillity and have peace profound within your soul.
  • Jan 19 2014: We are fortunate to live in a time when science is still needed and relevant. We know enough to have curiosity and the drive to learn but not enough to make us satisfied or overly arrogant. Science at this time is truly enjoyable for most people. Will we ever know everything? I think one chap I met at a well-to-do University thinks he will in his lifetime. In reality, however, I prefer to enjoy the adventure of this time. The gift of living only 80 years in a Universe so old is accepting the truth of only being able to contribute small tangible elements of knowledge.
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      Jan 19 2014: Please explain, dear Veko, How " elements of knowledge" can be ever "tangible"? Do you mean knowledge is tangible? Can one physically touch knowledge?

      Thank you.
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    Jan 17 2014: Ask any question that you know the answer for (or you think you know the answer for), then answer it. Then follow up with the question "Why?". Repeat the process of asking "why". Can you reach the end? i.e is it possible to reach an answer, for which question "why" does not apply. If youw answer is yes, then science can tell everything eventually, if your answer is no, then do you know why?
    • Jan 20 2014: I woul say yes/no.
      Why No ?
      As you correctly stated an answer is the device for generating more questions.
      Why Yes ?
      Because science has hit the event horizon. Question, at least some of them become meaningless.

      iow. science, as we know it, is about to reach its end.
      Probably :)
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    Jan 17 2014: No! We are question generating animals, always seeking answers. As soon as we feel we know it all, our horizons will expand and more questions will need to be answered. If we ever feel we know it all - we'll die of boredom!
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    Jan 17 2014: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
    ― Heraclitus

    Knowledge is the river in which no one can step twice. So is our experience. The world is not going to stop its transformation for us. It is entirely new in every instant !! so are we in it. We are not just tremedously limited, but we also must deal with new realities in every moment.

    Siences never learn about this nature's law. WHAT ARE SCIENCES, anyway? How do we perceive what we think we Know, the universe, stars, trees, cells, microbes, birds or fish?

    If we try to think as logically as we possibly can, I believe we have to say- in order to truly know everything we must BECOME Everything.

    Our observations, especially in our sciences, we are not only greatly limited, but mainly base our human experience on the "evidence" and "proof" brought to us through the most illusive and deceiving sense perception of all we might possess - our sight.

    In any case lets remember:

    Ignorant men raise questions that wise men
    answered a thousand years ago.

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Thank you for reading.
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    Jan 16 2014: Before I address the question head on, I would like to first note that I don't think we "know" anything about the world around us. While we might observe that certain things act in certain ways and may attribute certain equations to describe how these things act (force equals mass times acceleration for instance), we do not *know* if this is how it actually works. We are simply assigning numbers to reality in the hopes of understanding reality better. I don't think we will ever actually know something, as their is no absolute authority (like a creator) that we can contact (now if we could contact this hypothetical being that would be interesting (looks for an upcoming post :))).

    With that said, I can still address the heart of the question. I think there is a point (whether we reach it or not doesn't matter) in which everything about our world (world being a much broader sense than Earth) will be somehow observed and explained in someway. I think one of the things this question is really asking is if there is a finite or an infinite amount of knowledge in our world (ignoring the tools to getting to this point (science being the tool mentioned in the question)). I think there is a finite amount of things to learn about the world (sort of related to if our world (or universe) is infinite or not). While we may be having a trend of "infinite divisibility", like the positivist nullifidian mentioned below, I think that our finite potential knowledge is integer-like. In that while we may be reaching an 'asymptote', once we reach that asymptote it will just take learning about the one thing left to finally 'know' everything about our world.

    Okay that metaphor might not have been well communicated, but hopefully the idea was sort of expressed, if not please reply. Also, if you have any thoughts about this^ you are encouraged share. Thanks for the question!
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      Jan 18 2014: I believe that nothing can we perfectly known or experienced in this world of instant changes and transformations. Our environemnt with ouselves in it, is very new and different in every moment of our life.

      Beside that fact our sense-perceptions on which we so depend in scientific observations and "proves" are crucially limited and unstable for a number of very important "reasons" which we may reveal within our own nature.

      It is very sad how many people still believe that we Can Know what is " out there" or "deeply inside something". This is the problem we have in education - the most profound answers to the Topic-question above have been provided millennia ago.