One would think that of all the questions we humans might be unable to answer, a core issue at the heart of everyday experiences about which we all agree everywhere in the world would not contain one of the biggest problems physics faces.
But it is, and it’s a problem that revolves around the very nature of time and space. The laws in physics detailing what happens on the quantum level of particles frequently contradict the laws of time and space as we all know them. Particles seem to go in and out of existence, for instance. And particles seem to be able to transcend space, influencing what happens half way around the earth, and quite possibly much much further. Up and down, before and after, inside and outside don’t operate on the quantum level in ways we expect them to in the world in which we live.
I won’t embarrass myself by trying to explain this in greater depth. I would undoubtedly make a fool of myself.
But I do know enough to know that it is an unresolved problem that Einstein spent his life trying to solve. And couldn’t.
If even a genius can’t get out of bed in the morning and truly feel as if he understands what’s going on around him, there’s an awful lot we don’t know. If we don’t understand even the basics of time and space, and if our grasp of the nature of matter and energy is so tenuous, I think we can say there’s a big chunk we don’t understand.
Knowing how much we don’t know should keep us from getting too arrogant, shouldn’t it? I find it very liberating, but I think sometimes it might also be quite scary, sending us running for cover with a dubious collection of Right Answers.
I don’t exclude myself from this temptation.