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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?

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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?

          Yes/No
          :)

          "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

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