|From Bertrand Russell’s 1945 book, History of Western Civilization
“In the sphere of thought, sober civilization is roughly synonymous with science. But science, unadulterated, is not satisfying; men need also passion and art and religion. Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination. Among Greek philosophers, as among those of later times, there were those who were primarily scientific and those who were primarily religious; the latter owed much, directly or indirectly, to the religion of Bacchus. This applies especially to Plato, and through him to those later developments which were ultimately embodied in Christian theology.”
Discussion by Bruce Camber: A friend suggested to me that Russell’s words in the quote, “should not” could be “cannot” as in “…science cannot set limits to imagination.” Generally that may be true. However, I would argue that Russell, as quoted, is correct within the context of cosmology and the big bang theory. Perhaps for about the past twenty years, 1997 to 2017, if you were to suggest an alternative theory, you would have been labelled idiosyncratic at best, heretical for sure, and probably a crackpot. Science, de facto, was setting limits to imagination.
That is beginning to change.
In June 2017 Neil Turok said that the big bang is wrong. It only takes a few key people of the caliber of a Turok to crack that golden egg that has been the big bang theory. He has been Stephen Hawking’s co-author, collaborator and old boss as the former head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at Cambridge University. Turok says that there wasn’t a big bang but “perpetual big bangs.”
A bit of a stretch, I believe it won’t be too long before he adopts a natural inflation that is ongoing and sustained from the beginning of time. That accounts for the perpetual nature and the much more simple and logical progression that results from the natural thrust within the base-2 exponentiation from the Planck base units opens many possibilities to account for quantum gravity. An early-stage analysis of those numbers gives us many clues as to why this actually works. Thank you. -BEC
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