[linux-elitists] Bohr at the LHC (was blah blah blah)

Bob Bernstein rs@bernstein.providence.ri.us
Sun Oct 21 14:35:17 PDT 2007


On Sun, Oct 21, 2007 at 04:20:50PM -0400, Aaron Sherman wrote:

> >> "It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to   
> >> find out how nature *is*.  Physics concerns what we can
> >> *say* about nature."
> >>                 -- Niels Bohr

> I don't think you're correctly interpreting Bohr, there. The LHC
> doesn't change what he said in the slightest.

I didn't mean to give an interpretation of those two problematic
statements. Minimally, I don't think their *meaning* is nearly as
clear as their neat aphoristic construction might lead one to
believe, prima facie. They purport to say something about physics,
but they are also saying something about "nature." In physics,
experimentalists do not always sound *at all* like theorists. That
difference *may* have been more pronounced in Bohr's day, and
earlier, but I suspect the Bohr quote, if put on a whiteboard in
an LHC conference room, would generate some lively conversation.

I'm trying to imagine, too, how Bridgman would reply to Bohr, but
that's not coming to me very quickly, so I'll postpone that
segment of the program.


-- 
Bob Bernstein   




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