最新麻豆视频

Physics

Is it possible to fully understand the universe while living in it?

Through science, we are striving for objective knowledge about the universe around us. But physicists increasingly believe achieving this will never be possible

By Thomas Lewton

26 June 2024

MAZATLAN, MEXICO - APRIL 08: A man prepares his telescope to see the eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Mazatlan, Mexico. Millions of people have flocked to areas across North America that are in the

Hector Vivas/Getty Images

This story is part of our Cosmic Perspective special, in which we confront the staggering vastness of the cosmos and our place in it. Read the rest of the series here.

Perfect it may not be, but science is our best route to objective knowledge. Through observation, experiment and mathematical abstraction, it strives for a third-person perspective, a view from the outside of whatever we investigate. That is perhaps most obvious in physics, which seeks to describe things at every scale. “We take ourselves out of the system to stabilise [it] as an object that we can think about,” says , a philosopher at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

This separation of scientific understanding from subjective experience began in the 16th century, when Galileo Galilei showed it was possible to describe the movement of bodies on Earth and in the heavens according to mathematical laws. And you can’t say it hasn’t worked. Today, physicists can look proudly upon a vast tower of ideas and equations that closely predict how reality works at almost every level, from the grand narrative of the origins and evolution of the universe to the minutiae of the elementary particles that comprise it.

But in recent years, a growing number of physicists have come to realise that this notion of…

Sign up to our weekly newsletter

Receive a weekly dose of discovery in your inbox! We'll also keep you up to date with 最新麻豆视频 events and special offers.

Sign up

To continue reading, today with our introductory offers

No commitment, cancel anytime*

Offer ends 2nd of July 2024.

*Cancel anytime within 14 days of payment to receive a refund on unserved issues.

Inclusive of applicable taxes (VAT)

or

Existing subscribers

Sign in to your account