Friday Roundup

  • Krauss: The definition of a windbag.
  • From the book, The Radiance of Being: Dimensions of Cosmic Christianity:

“It is worth noting the role of theology in this breakthrough by Faraday and Maxwell.  Thomas Torrance writes:

 ‘[James] Clerk Maxwell’s belief in God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ made him question whether the universe created by the wisdom of God did really behave in the way described by Newtonian mechanics.  The crisis came when he failed again and again to find a Newtonian mechanistic explanation for the behavior of electromagnetism and light.  It was through allowing Christian thought (such as the understanding of interpersonal relations derived from the doctrine of the Holy Trinity) to bear upon his scientific thinking that he came up with the conception of the continuous dynamic field, to which Einstein was to point as introducing the most far-reaching change in the rational structure of science and our understanding of nature.’”

In the same book, it also notes that Faraday was also a devout Christian.  Gee, I wonder if both Maxwell and Faraday knew their beliefs clashed with science or that they weren’t “real” scientists. Poor misguided souls.
  • From the same book:

“The implications of the identification of light as an excitation of a universally pervasive electromagnetic field are rarely in the forefront of our minds.  But when a scientist pauses to express himself in imaginative terms we can be astounded.  In a book of essays dedicated to the science and theology of light, Andrew M. Steane pauses to describe how his view of ordinary, everyday objects such as chairs and coffee cups has changed under the impact of quantum electro-dynamics (“QED”).  Since electrical charge itself is essentially a ‘propensity to emit or absorb’ photons, those photons exist in the interior of solid objects, ‘enabling them to hold themselves together.’  Thus: ‘The table before me is full of light.  We don’t see that light because it is mostly not coming up out of the table, but passing to and fro within it, hidden inside, each photon glimmering just long enough to pass from one particle to another.’  In fact, the world is even more luminous than that, because reflected light itself is not what we assume—a collection of photons bouncing off a hard surface.  Rather it is a collection of photons being absorbed by the surface and another collection of photons radiated back (in wave-lengths, i.e. colors, determined by the properties of the surface itself).  In reality, everything is glowing (emphasis added).
And, as Dr. Steane puts it, ‘if it were not for this dance of energy and light, I would fall through the surface of the road into the interior of planet Earth—or to be more thorough and accurate, my body would dissipate entirely into a vapor of dust, and so would Earth.’  Add to this fact that the very particles of which we are made, and which are performing this constant dance to keep us in existence, were themselves (that is, these identical atoms) forged in the hearts of exploding stars millions of years ago, and it is hard not to be overwhelmed by wonder.”
Hard, but not impossible.  One can be “educated” out of that wonder by being told the wonder points to nothing beyond one’s internal neurons firing, the emotions being activated, and other physiological changes, meaning ultimately…nothing.  Systems clear now, back to normal.  Must have been an anomaly.

For some, the world is glowing.  For others, it is a dull sameness.  If they notice the glowing, they are quick to explain it away.
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