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Anne Dalke's picture

Uncertain About Uncertainty

Reporting in (as per usual) on the news from the Times: Monday's paper included a most relevant book review of David Lindley's Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and the Struggle for the Soul of Science:

"'Uncertainty' examines the critical juncture at which classical scientific methods became obsolete and the most radical theories began to be outside the realm of proof...'a gap had opened up between what a theory said was the full and correct picture of the physical world and what an experiment could in practice reveal of that world'....As Wolfgang Pauli once said...'It's much easier to find one's way if one isn't too familiar with the magnificent unity of classical physics'....the Heisenberg uncertainty principle...'has become a touchstone, a badge of authority' ...because it can be used to make scientific truth sound less than all-powerful. Treated that way, 'the uncertainty principle makes scientific knowledge itself less daunting to the nonscientists and more like the slippery, elusive kind of knowing we daily grapple with.'"

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