Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Can We Reach the End of Knowledge?

Dartmouth professor Marcelo Gleiser tackles the headache-inducing question of whether we can arrive at the end of knowledge. 

What's the Big Idea?


If Western philosophy begins with the Greek philosopher Thales, it begins with the question of whether humans can ever arrive at the dream of "knowing all there is to know." Thales had his answer. Water held the key to understanding the universe. It was believed to be the substance from which everything that exists is derived. 

As knowledge has marched triumphantly forward ever since, scientists have continued to look for ways to simplify all knowledge with a unified theory, and grown ever-confident in our ability to develop such a theory.

Groundbreaking discoveries in physics, such as the realization of the importance of dark matter, for instance, have challenged this notion. The more we learn, the more it pushes the boundaries of what we don't know.  

Marcelo Gleiser, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth, describes this problem by using the metaphor of an island. Knowledge is an island. As this island grows, Gleiser says, the border of what we do not know also grows. So the history of knwoledge will always be incomplete. 

Watch the video here:

What's the Significance?

Can a single theory give us a consistent picture of the evolution of the universe? That is what scientists from Newton to Einstein attempted to do. The proponents of Super String Theory today are attempting to do the same thing. 

String Theory is a notoriously untestable model that attempts to describe all fundamental forces and forms of matter. As Gleiser points out, in order for a theory to have true relevance to our world you must be able to design an experiment to test it. When you're theory involves multiple hidden dimensions, you end up with a theory that is not even wrong

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

DMT drug study investigates the ‘entities’ people meet while tripping

Why do so many people encounter beings after smoking large doses of DMT?

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • DMT is arguably the most powerful psychedelic drug on the planet, capable of producing intense hallucinations.
  • Researchers recently surveyed more than 2,000 DMT users about their encounters with 'entities' while tripping, finding that respondents often considered these strange encounters to be positive and meaningful.
  • The majority of respondents believed the beings they encountered were not hallucinations.
Keep reading Show less

Self-driving cars to race for $1.5 million at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ​

So far, 30 student teams have entered the Indy Autonomous Challenge, scheduled for October 2021.

Illustration of cockpit of a self-driving car

Indy Autonomous Challenge
Technology & Innovation
  • The Indy Autonomous Challenge will task student teams with developing self-driving software for race cars.
  • The competition requires cars to complete 20 laps within 25 minutes, meaning cars would need to average about 110 mph.
  • The organizers say they hope to advance the field of driverless cars and "inspire the next generation of STEM talent."
Keep reading Show less

The dangers of the chemical imbalance theory of depression

A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.

Image: solarseven / Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A study at Harvard's McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
  • Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system."
  • Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
Keep reading Show less
Videos

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast