Let’s say you’re at an interview for your dream job. The salary, the benefits, the work – which is, of course, something science related – is all perfect. The hiring manager initiates with the age-old, “So, tell me about yourself.” Nervous and searching your mind for the perfect answer you say, “Oh me? I’m an amalgamation of atoms that have coalesced to form molecules which in turn make up cells that eventually account for the organism sitting before you today.”
Needless to say, you didn’t get the job. But why not? Was your answer incorrect? Did you wear the wrong tie? Well, according to this week’s guest, theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, your answer was fundamentally valid yet at the same time pragmatically false. The universe is essentially just particles obeying natural laws, yes, but there is certainly more than just one way to talk about it.
Sean Carroll is a Research Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. PNM producer Jake Walters got the chance to speak with him regarding his latest book The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself in which he illustrates a worldview he calls “poetic naturalism.”