culture, Science

Book: Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

A fantastic book! A sort of autobiography of Richard Feynman. I wish I had read this book during my undergraduate studies. Feynman’s worldview would have helped me a lot to understand the world of science. But, I may not have understood many of his comments on American society and the circumstances of his time.

He was mostly interested in doing science, discovering culture(s), and having good time with blond beauties. His attitude towards the world is full of curiosity with an element of bravado (assuming all is true in the book).  I truly identify with Some of his following discussions.

  • Once he visited Brazil for a year.  After his teaching experience there, he realized that his students were only memorizing physics but not really understanding. He said that it was a very serious problem. This comment was very true with my education(including IITK) and I found most people around me had no interest in the subject and they were studying only to get better grades.
  • He tried to learn Art and see if there is any sense in doing it. He learned music and painting. His initial skepticism about the art eventually turns into respect. And, he also becomes amateur artist. I am still in the realm of skepticism.
  • Once he participated in a interdisciplinary conference about ethical problems in education related to equality. He was totally confused in the conversation and failed to follow the ideas of people from the other disciplines. He thought they talk in a very ill-defined manner. Definitions are rarely explicated. Sooner or later the conversation was lost in the jungle of jargon. I still feel that way in my own field of  research. Let alone talking to the people of the other fields.
  • This book hardly comments on politics of his time except the WWII. During that period, he built the bomb. And, he wasn’t much bothered by the consequences of building the bomb. He only wanted to solve a difficult problem. Military applications of science and technology are always challenging. A highly skilled technical person may easily find the challenge very seductive and forget the consequences of his actions.

Dark Energy

I have recently learned about “Dark energy”. It is a name given to an unknown phenomenon, whose only one effect we can observe. That is expanding and accelerating universe. All the theories explaining natural forces( gravitation and electromagnetism etc) predict expanding but decelerating universe.

Therefore, there must be something that is pulling apart whole universe, which we can not detect using any normal instruments on earth. Scientists have named this unknown something as “Dark Energy”. “Energy” because in mathematical equations this something appears as if it is some kind of energy. “Dark” because our instruments are blind against this energy.

I don’t like term “Dark Energy”. It has so many wrong connotations and it is misleading. We have no idea why universe is accelerating and we have wishful thinking to fit whole universe into a set of equations. We had great successes in mathematizing most of the Nature. And, we tend to believe that this must be true for every aspect of universe. So, if something doesn’t fit then our current equations and theory behind those equations must be wrong. There must exist another theory and a set of equations that predict correct behavior. Therefore, we are seeking after Dark energy.

Is it not itself a dogma?


Are there reason of some things?

Law of force:

Newton found that force is proportional to acceleration. Acceleration is second derivative of position. It seems so obvious result that it is very hard to doubt further. My query is:
“Why nature chose second derivative of position to be proportional to Force? Why not third derivative of position? Can we develop a consistent physical world in theory with force proportional to third derivative of position?”

If there is a very obvious explanation for it please let me know.

Uncertainty principle

Nature contains particle. And particle can’t exist without certain properties such as position, movementum, energy and mass. And these properties have interdependencies. If you fix one property then automatically others get a constraint over their values.
One of these dependency is uncertainty principle. It says there are interdependent pair of properties in the nature. If you are certain about one property then other get loose its certainty in its value. Mathematically speaking, product of uncertainty of the pair of properties can’t be less then a known value. Such pair of properties are (position, monument am) or (Energy,Time).

My feeling asks: “ Why there are exactly two quantities whose uncertainty product should be lower bounded? Why not product of three quantities?”

If you play with the equations of the quantum physics you will feel that this uncertainty principle is implication of 2-dimensions of imaginary number space. If you tight your solution in one dimension it will set loose in other dimension.
The reason behind why quantum physicist chose imaginary number as base of quantum equations seems to me is completeness of the imaginary number space.

Does completeness of imaginary number space imply uncertainty principle with only two components?


Nature has some master plan which implied uncertainty principle and also completeness of imaginary number. We humans just got a chance to put them together.
All mathematician are invited to answer my confusion. 🙂