April 21, 2014
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
Feb 25, 2014 / 25 Adar I, 5774
Physics is enjoying a golden age
Each of the GPS satellites that allow me to navigate to a new restaurant carries an atomic clock that needs to be accurate in order to triangulate the speed and position of my moving car. But there are a couple of problems. Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity predicts that clocks hurtling through space at satellite speed will appear to tick more slowly than earthbound clocks by about 7,000 nanoseconds each day (a nanosecond is a billionth of a second). His Theory of General Relativity, on the other hand, predicts that clocks farther from a massive object (the Earth), will advance faster than clocks on the ground, in this case by a little more than 45,000 nanoseconds.
If the GPS system fails to compensate for the 38,000-nanosecond difference predicted by an eccentric German physicist, errors in global positioning would increase by about 6 miles each day. In 23 days, my restaurant in Washington, D.C., might mistakenly show up in Philadelphia. This is the oddness of modern physics invading the everyday world.
Everyone needs a diversion, even from a job they love. My escape from a political world in which Ted Nugent figures prominently (or at all) is to read books on cosmology and quantum theory and then bore my family with scientific trivia. Note that reading is different from understanding. Being mathematically illiterate, I tend to skip the equations, which is like reading music without comprehending the notes. But I understand enough to know that physics, unlike politics, is experiencing a golden age. Microwave receivers detect small variations in the cold, ancient light from the big bang. Vast, underground colliders produce elegantly curved sprays of exotic particles.
Revolution has followed revolution. At the macro level, it was only in the late 1990s that astronomers found, against all expectation, that the expansion of the universe is accelerating instead of slowing down. This led to the postulation of an unseen dark energy in the vacuum of space — a force from the void capable of repelling galaxies. Astronomers have also found that stars on the edges of galaxies move faster than gravitational theory would predict, leading to the theory that (so far) undetectable dark matter keeps galaxies from flinging apart. It is estimated that more than 95 percent of the universe — dark energy plus dark matter — is entirely unseen.
The micro level is even odder. A century of quantum physics still has not fully sunken in. The smallest particles exist not in places but in probability waves that reach across the universe. In the prevailing (but disputed) consensus, they gain a definite position only upon observation. According to Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw in “The Quantum Universe,” we inhabit “a world in which a particle really can be in several places at once and moves from one place to another by exploring the entire universe simultaneously.”
At every level, from top to bottom, we gain knowledge of the world only by cutting our ties to common sense and intuition. The largest things are hidden from our view. The smallest things defy any coherent mental picture. There is, in fact, a strangeness at the heart of all things.
What are the philosophic implications? Such deep-down contingency does not, for example, prove or disprove theism. But modern physics leaves room for a reality beyond our senses. In the tame, orderly world of Isaac Newton, the motion, position, past and future of every particle, person or planet were predictable and determined. Compare this to Max Tegmark’s brilliant, outlandish new book, “Our Mathematical Universe,” in which the author argues that probability waves, instead of collapsing, branch off into parallel universes — meaning you and I do as well. He further claims that our external reality is not only described by math, it is actually a mathematical structure — leaving those of us who are mathematically challenged incapable of speaking our mother tongue.
The point here is not that Tegmark’s theories are broadly accepted, only that such theories are no longer considered absurd. Physics has seen the return of the unseen — parallel universes, infinitesimal strings, floating and colliding branes — that are reasonably inferred without being physically observed. I can think of other creative forces in that category. Not for centuries has physics been so open to metaphysics, or more amenable to an ancient attitude: a sense of wonder about things above and within.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on Michael Gerson's column by clicking here.
02/18/14 Syria's refugees: Assad uses mass atrocities in the civil war
02/11/14 Burke and Paine, a rivalry that still reverberates
02/03/14 A rendezvous with irrelevance
01/31/14 Obama's thin agenda: The State of the Union lacked a theme
01/28/14 Obama breeding distrust of liberalism
01/24/14 Our complex president: Is his intellectual style actually good leadership?
01/21/14 The power to intimidate . . . on the Left
01/17/14 Gates hits his target
12/31/13 A dismal year in politics, for Republicans and Democrats alike
12/24/13 The war on Christians
12/17/13 The exhausted parties: What have politicians accomplished?
12/06/13 My numbered days: My cancer diagnosis gave me the clarity of mortality
11/22/13 C.S. Lewis: Rescuing desire
11/19/13 Former bridge burner starting to build them to save GOP
11/15/13 Entrepreneurs of outrage: Fear and anger sweep up policy issues
11/01/13 What Obamacare has cost Dems
10/29/13 In 6 months will this column prove prophetic?
10/22/13 Obamacare repair: It could become a crisis for modern liberalism
10/04/13 The GOP should speed Obamacare's demise. Right now, it's not
10/03/13 The tea party's revolt
09/30/13 The end of compromise?
09/17/13 A state of paralysis: Congress, Obama need to act
09/12/13 In full retreat on Syria
09/10/13 Obama misunderstands wartime leadership
09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end
© 2008, WPWG