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27.5.02

lt occurred to me today that in some ways I don't believe in physics. Or at least, physics as I've been led to believe the discipline is, given that I haven't really studied it.

It seems to me that the "big project" in physics is a search for some kind of unified theory of everything, a more basic equation that sums up everything we know so far, something that all our current knowledge can be derived from. The assumption seems to be that there's some simple, elegant idea underlying how the universe works.

But I see the world as being infinitely complex. Any proposition we make about the world -- any law of physics, for example -- is a simplification, codifying a pattern we think we see in the jumble of stuff that's going on. Like when a cartoonist draws a person's nose as a triangle or an oval -- the shape of the nose is a lot more complex than that, but the shape that he draws captures what he sees to be the simplest pattern to it. So by this logic, more complete explanations of things would necessarily be more complex.

The only thing I can think of to reconcile these two opposite directions is chance. As I understand it, there's room for truly random events in advanced physics. These random events become concrete as they occur, and shape the conditions for future events. So maybe what's infintely complex is the result of these few simple laws operating in a universe subject to a lot of chance. Or maybe not.

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