By Chet Yarbrough
The Big Picture
By: Sean Carroll
Narrated by Sean Carroll
Sean Carroll (Author, theoretical physicist in quantum mechanics, gravity, and cosmology.)
Being a fan, Sean Carroll is usually a good source for understanding science but “The Big Picture” is not his best work. Traveling through centuries of discovery and science’ revisions is too broad a picture for a layman’s understanding. Many attempts at clear communication about current physics fail to enlighten “The Big Picture”.
Carroll does clarify the difference between “is” and “ought” that explains why science is important. God may be the origin of life on earth but proof relying on faith is an “ought” without an “is”. Science reduces knowledge to facts based on repeatable experiments and predictable results. If experiments are conducted by different experimenters with the same results, what “is” becomes predictable and more likely correct. Carroll explains science deals with the world as it “is”; not how the world “ought” to be.
Preachers preach a gospel based on what is not experimentally proven and only anecdotally predictable. Anecdotes are not necessarily true or reliable because they are based on personal accounts rather than facts or research. Numerous studies have shown that human cognition relies on brain patterning which influences, matches, or melds information stored in the brain.
The consequence of patterning distorts reality. Eye-witness accounts of events are notoriously misleading because of human patterning.
“The Big Picture” recounts the history of physics and how human understanding has evolved over the centuries. Carroll explains how past discoveries based on science have evolved. Newton lived in the same world as Einstein. Both discovered fundamental truths about “The Big Picture”.
Newton’s laws apply to earth’s realm. Einstein’s laws apply to the universe. Both are correct within their spheres. Carroll notes neither Newton nor Einstein contradict the laws of physics, but their laws are confined by the earth or universe in which they are proven.
Carroll believes all essential particles of the atom have been discovered. This reminds one of the scientists in the late 19th century who said, “in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few unimportant holes”.
It is difficult not to enjoy Carroll’s way with words but with the unexplained essence of gravity, dark matter, and dark energy, it seems premature to suggest no new particle discoveries will change our view of the world and their impact on reality.