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Actually, It's Not That Important

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Posted by Aurino Souza on May 4, 2001 14:05:27 UTC

Those eureka moments are amazing. During our whole life we have what, ten, twenty of them? As few as they are, they completely transform our understanding of the world. It's a shame we don't have them on a daily basis.

I struggled with relativity for a long time. I could never decide if it was right or wrong because, like most people, I couldn't understand it. Then suddenly all fell into place and the whole thing made perfect sense: relativity is neither right nor wrong, because it's not a theory about reality. It is not right because it is paradoxical, and it is not wrong because it is supported by evidence, but evidence is not the same thing as reality. That is what throws people off their intellectual balance.

The problem is, however, an illusion. The only thing that is wrong about relativity is the mainstream scientific interpretation of it. Everyone is confused, myself included, but the problem, I understand it now, is that most scientists blame the universe for their confusion. The crux of the problem lies in our definitions, which are not perfectly consistent with our experience. Einstein succeeded in fixing up the math, but he and everyone else so far have failed in fixing up the definitions. That will have to wait.

For now I can only take delight in reading Hawking's A Brief History of Time for what it really is, a testament of our ability to confuse ourselves. Or, perhaps better, a comic book for future generations.

I have no intention of discussing any of this as it's entirely personal and irrelevant to anyone else. I just offer it as a testimony, for what it's worth.

Best wishes to all

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