Friday, January 13, 2006


Approximately ten years ago, the students of Industrial Engineering of The Universidad Politécnica of Valencia decided to do a joke to the novice students. The courses of Industrial Engineering where six, and much students passed much more than 13 years to end this. This way, students and teachers were easily confounded because his ages and beards were similar. The innocent but amusing joke was to take a veteran student, to disguise to him with a white dressing gown like a teacher, and distribute they (teachers)around the classroom. The false teacher, seriously, started the lesson indicating that it was going to do a verification of the base level of the students around their general knowledge, and asked some questions extremely difficult for a beginner student. The false teacher, asked accurately to the real ones about concepts that scared the students like "rotational of a divergence" or "applied laplacians to vectorial functions" or "hermitic or hilbert spaces", that evidently they not have studied last years. One time the students were really scared, asked to a one of they to go to the blackboard, conscious that the level was going to be very high.

And then, the "teacher" asked to him:
— Please, could you say to me the correct definition of a “vector”.
— Eeehh... an arrow... two points
—the student doubted.
— Go down, to the receptionist, and say to him that give to you a box of vectors. The student, rapidly go out for a "box of vectors". But evidently, the vectors don't exist in real world, and by the way, when he go out, the real teachers, the veteran students and any who know this, laughed strongly.

The vectors are representative models, same way that much of our structures and theories are models that we use to explain ourselves the natural world and the reality. Every scientific theory starts on the reality, it is used thought a theoretical model and after is used in real world. Simply resumed, this is the essence of the scientific method. The problem arises and grows when the models that we use to represent reality are every time much complex. From birthing of the nature philosophers, denominated "physics", to practically finals of XIX century, the models of the world have had some revolution, but were comprehensible. For example, there where models based in plane Earth, that after where changed for another's with an spherical Earth, the center of the universe. Much more before, Erastostenes, librarian of the Alexandrian library, calculated the diameter of the Earth with a much more approximation that Cristobal Colon used. Later where much changes, like Earth wasn't the center of the universe, and Sun was. If this is scary, it's really certain that this steps allows humans to eliminate the problems about the interpretation of reality, because it's a much more approximation theory and model of the reality. It means that every abstraction of the reality, every model that humans construct often is conceptually much complex, but at the same time lacks existent paradoxes.

At different times have been immutable references, like the plane Earth, or immobile, or the regularity of the stars and the Sun, and recently the constancy of the velocity of light in vacuum, his wave particle characteristic an the theories that are related to this like especial relativity and general relativity and quantum mechanics. In the work of finding this constant references thought humans could establish his points of view, it arrives at a moment that "space" and "time" are redefined, with Einstein, like a union, a interval that was the last reference of one model. High velocities introduce a new elements of anxiety for de human beings, that needed a new step to security. This security became partially with the Einstein's theories.

But Dalí known it and used it. Confusion is the previous step to a jump of conscience to a higher level that allows to learn from two opposite points of view of the same natural phenomenon. When you see to the “Torero Alucinógeno” of Dalí, the first impression is disturbing, confusing. If you are the sufficiently patient, the first impression is changed, and the brain starts to work more higher, and it looks for an order in the apparent chaos, or the the message that is hidden in it. And is this way that a little miracle occurs in the spectator mind: a new way to see allows us to follow the way that explains us the painter biography.

Same way, an eclipse could have been confusing to the ancient babilonic observers, because something regular like sun and its revolutions was repently changed. Only when they could constant that it was not permanently, they could interpretate this not definitive phenomenon. Maybe gods became infuriated, maybe the Sun remained slept that morning... but really what it happened was that there was a new phenomenon, and a new knowledge of the world. Tales of Mileto gained fame of wise because he had a table and predicted what year this was going to happen. Stars were stable, but sometime, strange things passed

Faraday, Maxwel, Hertz ideas were a giant steps through the unification of extrange phenomenon like electricity and electromagnetism that later were the motor of great changes in technology at beginnings of XX century. Einstein, Young, Broglie, Heisenberg, Planck, etc. broke any "absolute references". But when the reference tree to house was disappeared, only one thing could help man to go to the correct way: human thinking. It could be that things that are created through imagination and philosophy can be completed through it.

Natura abhorret a vacua

Extracted of "Siglo XXI: La Física que nos espera", Cap. 1, de R. Aparicio.


Post a Comment

<< Home