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What Humans Can Do

An interesting remark, but I think a fallacious one, by Richard Dawkins in a recent conversation with David Attenborough:

RD: There does seem to be a sense in which physics has gone beyond what human intuition can understand. We shouldn’t be too surprised about that because we’re evolved to understand things that move at a medium pace at a medium scale. We can’t cope with the very tiny scale of quantum physics or the very large scale of relativity.

Actually, we cope exceptionally well because in the end everything comes to us through detectors whose pointers are of human scale. So, despite what we’ve evolved to react to (I think that’s a better word for this than understanding) humans can truly understand electrons and electromagnetic fields, with amazing intuition, at distances smaller than 10-12 cm and close to the speed of light, better than anyone understands anything else in the whole wide world. Hence lasers, PET scans , electron microscopes, carbon dating, the Bohm Aharanov effect, quantum computers …

Published in Models