This book is dedicated to the memory of a committed thinker, physicist, mathematician, a very conscientious human being, a scientist, a world-class rock climber, a skilled outdoorsman, as well my tutor, collaborator, and best friend, José. His understanding of nature led to my ultimate understanding of it which will hopefully, eventually lead to many other people’s understanding of it too.
We can all thank José.
Modern cultural attitudes commonly see an understanding of theoretical physics as having nothing whatsoever to do with everyday life, being very far removed from practical reality, an interesting subject of debate for scientific scholars at a laboratory in some university somewhere, but useless to the common man.
Most mistakenly, modern cultural attitudes regard any kind of meaningful understanding of the subject of modern theoretical physics as being beyond ordinary intellectual capacity, certainly beyond the reach of anyone lacking either rare intellectual gift, or an extremely comprehensive background with years of science and math. Mistakenly, attitudes may regard it being especially out of reach for a young, untrained mind. Such cultural attitudes could not be more incorrect. Little, if any, science and math background is really needed for understanding, conceptually, the two theories that together comprise the core of the theoretical model of physical reality (and ultimately all real science). And, except for those minds soundly prepared and adequately motivated for understanding such concepts, there is no mind more suited for understanding theoretical physics than a young, untrained mind – one capable of ignoring intuitive and cultural biases that might, and very likely will, find themselves reinforced by a classical science or math background. In other words, if you have little or no training in science or math, then you just may be more fit for understanding theoretical physics, than someone that has been trained (though perhaps stifled) by the classical methods by which science is taught, traditionally. Understanding theoretical physics is that way. It’s easy for naïve beginners. Theoretical physics can become much more difficult to understand, in light of “conventional” training methods, that often stand to handicap, rather than innovate, a genuine understanding of nature.
At its heart, understanding theoretical physics is fundamentally no more difficult than understanding what an idea called “perpendicular” means. Though reducing understanding theoretical physics to understanding nothing more than the simple notion of perpendicular may certainly seem a gross oversimplification of what is the enormous body of knowledge that this abstract subject is, at its heart, the physical models that so accurately describe nature are no more difficult to learn than learning the simple concept of perpendicular, because upon this single geometric idea all other ideas can be based. Theoretical physics truly begins with the single idea of perpendicular, and upon this single idea it begins its description, a description that ultimately includes, however coarse, an explanation of everything. From there, the description proceeds, ultimately combining this single, very simple idea of perpendicular, with another single, very simple idea: that of infinity. Though we might find it very hard to understand or even believe that two such fundamental ideas as perpendicular and infinity could ever lead anyone to any kind of genuinely accurate understanding of nature, surprisingly they do – apparently as accurately as can be done!
So, learning the most fundamental and accurate descriptions of nature that there are (theoretical physics) is actually no more complex than understanding these two basic ideas: perpendicular and infinity (though clearly there is much that must ultimately be built, upon these two ideas). Appropriately, in theoretical physics, there is a theory corresponding to each of these ideas upon which it is based: perpendicular and infinity. Corresponding to the former, perpendicular (specifically, linear independence), is the Theory of Relativity. Corresponding to the latter, infinity , when combined with the former, perpendicular, is the Theory of Quantum Mechanics. Together, these two theories describe the two different sides of nature, gravity and energy, better than ANY other models that have ever existed. But, they seem to apparently be generalizations of an even deeper theory, one called String Theory. And String Theory (again, apparently) agrees with both completely by yielding them. So, it would logically seem that both relativity and quantum mechanics would be the first steps to understanding this new and promising body of ideas called String Theory; especially in light of the fact that it was these very two theories that led to the contemplation of String Theory in the first place.
For a young, untrained, and most importantly, probably more open mind, one that has never been taught that his or her intellect is not fit to understand such things, learning both relativity and quantum mechanics, the two cornerstones of physical theory, is easiest. As a matter of fact, understanding theoretical physics is within the grasp of anyone, if they want to understand the nature of physical reality sincerely enough to be willing to dismiss ideas that they might, quite unknowingly, “prefer” embracing. This can provide opportunity to reach conclusions yielding ideas that, if we are to believe what we observe in us and around us corresponds to reality, is irrefutable and, most significantly, demonstrably truer than any other ideas yet imagined by science. But, these new conclusions based upon irrefutable and demonstrable truth has the capacity for rendering the ideas our ‘preferred’ ideas untrue, wholly contradicting these ideas, again irrefutably and, again most significantly, demonstrably. Yet, anyone who prefers truth over what they might prefer truth to be, as well as be willing (and able) to spend the time reading (which, at chongonation.com, means reading in either Spanish or English), and more importantly, spend the time to reread repeatedly as necessary can learn the principles underlying the most proven theoretical models. And, they can do so in terms of solid and comprehensible concepts (that can, if it is one’s wish to do so, then be easily translated into whatever appropriate mathematical notation that need be applied). One need only choose to learn theoretical physics, which returns us to the initial question – why?
Why learn theoretical physics? The answer is simple. If you can learn something that, with certainty, can make you significantly “smarter” – which means having a more accurate understanding of nature, or of anything in it – in any endeavor you may pursue, taking only a month or two (or maybe four or five for really grasping the concepts) to learn what people have traditionally spent years of labor and study to understand, then you would be very “wise” to do so, if presented the rare opportunity. In other words, the reason one should learn theoretical physics is because, quite simply, for the first time in human history, it is possible to do so without spending years in the pursuit. The website chongonation.com provides that opportunity – for ANYONE – both the formally educated and those who are not, regardless (although it should be emphasized that chongonation.com is most of all tying to provide opportunity to those individuals whom would ordinarily be the most removed from that opportunity: the poor).
All can learn more about nature, and about the science that describes it (not to mention learn more about the extreme sports that you can do outdoors in nature), at chongonation.com.
where learning is truly bitchin’.
© 2005 Chongo
All rights reserved.