Poetry

I argued a bit ago that physics is a form of art. I am now listening to Mozart’s requiem (Lacrimosa) and I am thinking that different art forms are mainly about going beyond forms. I’ve been told several times and it is sort of generally accepted that math is that part that allows you to actually perform some operations on physical objects (solving equations, performing rotations, etc.) In general this is not true. Math (at least as it is useful in physical thinking) is all about relations between concepts and ideas, compatibilities thereof and results of the mixtures of several constructions. A composer will not discuss about where to put a quarter note or how to represent the note “mi” in a symphony but he/she will worry about the end-result, the artistic effect and the general impression of the full symphony. In the same way a poet will not care about trochaic metric or a specific form of rhyme  but about the end effect of the message. A physicist is also an artist. He/she has the ability to see the whole picture and how the parts (different ideas) interact with each other in order to give a general result or concept. When constructing general relativity the main idea was the mapping between a free-falling object and an accelerated object and how space-time is included in this example and not about writing one or another of the metric tensor components or the Christoffel symbols correctly. They follow naturally from the main idea. The general idea behind special relativity was that things considered to be “true fundaments of nature” were in fact just auxiliary objects, subject to the relative state of the observer and in fact other objects were “more fundamental”. This followed naturally once a key idea has been grasped and the emerging structures were put together. What the main problem is, is how to see what exactly is just method of knowledge and what is true Nature. If one confounds the two disaster is imminent. We have nowadays several more or less objective criteria to see what exactly is just part of our imagination (gauge symmetries, space-time metrics and many other things that are defined only so that we get a grasp on reality). However we have not even remotely mapped out all possibilities. The art is to observe what exactly is nature and what is just method towards nature. The physical artist is the person that can consciously manipulate the methods and create some new methods of knowledge and ideas in order to gain some new insights about nature and reality.  The mediocre physicist is the one that is trapped in methods and confounds them with reality. This makes the last one to wander around in a space of infinite possibilities being sometimes charmed by some smoke and mirror appearing in front of him, sometimes saddened by some paradoxes but never reaching out to what nature really is. One can be completely blind to nature when it is not clear what parts of the formalism are nature and what parts are just “in our minds”…

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