MIT educator and physicist Alan Lightman knows how creative discoveries happen.
- Making big, new advances and solving old, intractable problems isn't magic. It takes preparation.
- One way to know you're on the right track? You'll feel completely stuck, Lightman says.
- If you want more counterintuitive insights like these that will make you thrive, join Big Think Edge today.
Theoretical physicist Alan Lightman suggests that our universe is one of many possible variations, leaving physicists at a cosmological dead end. Lightman's latest book is The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew.
Alan Lightman: For centuries scientists and especially physicists have believed that we would be able to show why our universe is as it is as a necessary consequence of certain fundamental principles and laws. Like finding – having a crossword puzzle with only one solution, the given certain very fundamental principles like the law of conservation of energy that there would be only one self-consistent universe allowed. And that has been sort of the holy grail of physics and we have been pretty successful in showing such things as why snowflakes have six-sided symmetry, why raindrops are round, why the sky is blue as necessary consequences of a small number of physical principles.
Alan Lightman is a novelist, essayist, physicist, and educator. Currently, he is Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Until 2003, he was John Burchard Professor of the Humanities at MIT.