May 24, 2013
May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Nov. 10, 2008
/ 12 Mar-Cheshvan 5769
$8 billion, modern-day Tower of Babel being built?
Rabbi Avi Shafran
Peering through Maimonides' microscope
In its purest form, the human spirit of inquiry is a holy thing. According to the renowned 12th century Jewish thinker Maimonides, nothing less than the Biblical commandment to love G-d is fulfilled when a person investigates nature and, struck by its intricacy and beauty, is filled with awe and gratitude to the Divine.
And so it is exciting to ponder the new aspects of physical reality that might be revealed by the Large Hadron Collider the 17-mile-circumference particle accelerator that, over 15 years and at a cost of some $8 billion, was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) underneath the French-Swiss border.
Subatomic physics is already a wonderland of strange beauty (not to be confused with "strange" and "beauty" fanciful names physicists have, at one time or another, given to types of quarks), having revealed that the seemingly mechanistic, clockwork universe we experience in daily life hides astonishing oddities, uncertainties and incomprehensibilities.
Those microcosmic bafflements complement the more readily accessible wonder of the world we experience when we simply look up at the stars, or down into the grass, or at a sunrise, or a newborn baby. The Standard Model the current theory of how subatomic particles interact reminds us that not only do the "heavens relate the glory of G-d" (Psalms 19:2) but that "to His wisdom there can be no comprehension" (Isaiah, 40:28).
An ultimate understanding of the universe will likely always evade the mortal mind. But new revelations the LHC might yield when its gargantuan magnets accelerate streams of particles in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light so that they collide and release their until now unexamined innards make the mammoth machine a most promising engine of scientific advancement.
Some cheerers-on of that advancement, however, are not exactly motivated by the Maimonidean quest to gain inspiration through a new glimpse of G-d's subtle wisdom. To the contrary, they look to whatever new knowledge the LHC may grant as just further justification for denying the Divine, forklifts with which to pull themselves up onto the pedestal of omniscience. They hope that the LHC will confirm the existence of particles predicted by the latest theories one such beastie, the Higgs boson, has even been labeled by some the "G-d Particle," for its potential to lead to a grand unified theory of the universe and thus show that the human mind can fully grasp the totality of creation, and is thus its intellectual master.
And so, while there are many scientists (like astrophysicists Fred Hoyle, Paul Davies and Arno Penzias, to name a few of the most famous) who maintain their human sense of wonder at the world and see purpose in nature, others, like physicist Steven Weinberg, choose to see the cosmos as fascinating but ultimately meaningless. Commenting on the LHC's expected informational yield, he opined that "as science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations."
Such conceit recalls another technological project, one whose promoters' focus was on the macrocosmic. The builders of the Tower of Babel, the Torah tells us, sought to erect a structure whose top would pierce the heavens, the better to assert their independence from the Divine and "make for ourselves a name." Their plans, of course, were dashed; their arrogance did them in.
The LHC was supposed to have already yielded its harvest of new particles by now. On September 10, proton beams were successfully circulated in the main ring of the structure. Nine days later, though, operations were halted, as an electrical fault caused liquid helium to leak into the tunnel, damaging dozens of the LHC's superconducting magnets and contaminating the "collider's ring." Physicists say it will take until next summer to make the necessary repairs.
"Man contemplates, G-d laughs" goes the Yiddish expression (and in that language it nicely rhymes). I don't know if G-d laughed as the glitch rained on the LHC parade. I certainly didn't; I was deeply disappointed. My thoughts, thought, did go back to the builders of Babel, and to how, in monumental projects, success or failure may ultimately hang on intentions.
Will the LHC in fact come to function as planned, and allow us to see deeper into nature? It might just depend on why we're looking in the first place.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment by clicking here.
JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.
© 2007, Am Echad Resources