Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Science Will Never Tell Us What Was Before the Big Bang (Inductively, to Clarify)

German particle physicist Rolf Dieter-Heuer is interviewed in The European. Dieter-Heuer is the director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research and oversees the vast CERN laboratories in Switzerland. Here are two highlights, for me.
  • Particle physics asks how did things develop. Religion and philosophy ask why things develop. "The boundary between the two is very interesting. I call it the interface of knowledge." Consider the question: "If there was a Big Bang, why was it there?" Dieter-Heuer says, "For us physicists, time begins with the Big Bang. But the question remains whether anything existed before that moment. And was there something even before the thing that was before the Big Bang? Those are questions where knowledge becomes exhausted and belief starts to become important."
  • Dieter-Heuer is asked: "Do you think it is conceivable that we will eventually learn something about before the Big Bang?" His answer is: "I doubt it."