The Three Cosmic Cats of Einstein
In 1955, a few years before his death, Albert Einstein received a letter from Maurice Solovine, a lifelong friend. Although Solovine was not a scientist, he apparently enjoyed discussing science with the noted physicist. In the letter, Solovine expressed that he had trouble understanding something that Einstein had written in an earlier essay. Einstein's reply began with an apology to his friend for the confusion, which was brought about by Solovine's misunderstanding of the structure of science.
Einstein blamed himself for never having explained it carefully. To illustrate his explanation, Einstein included a sketch (recreated to the right).

In the text of the letter, Einstein explained the gap--the empty space--which must be bridged by the creative leap anybody takes in attempting to explain a phenomenon. This leap, while intuitive and often insightful, is not necessarily scientific.

The scientific "process" begins when the scientist takes the axiom and predicts consequences based on it. The process demands that these predictions be tested against the "real" world. The axiom is (scientifically) worthless if there is no match between the predicted consequences and the tests or experiments. Correlation between predictions and tests indicate the idea or axiom might have merit. The scientific community is brought into the process when the axiom or idea is published, and often the original work is modified.

From The Creative Leap by Gerald F. Wheeler, Quantum Magazine,January/February 1997

A Footnote on the Universal Search for a Simpler Mouser
Conventional wisdom might suggest that theoriticians develop axioms that relate to a minimal set of consequences, thus better insuring successful testiing and broad publication and acceptance of their proposed axioms. This is not the case, however. For example, the latter half of Einstein's life was devoted to pursuit of a "unified field theory"-- a theory which would explain everything from sub-atomic particle behavior to galactic dynamics. He was able to predict, from his special theory of relativity, the existence of "black holes" so dense their incredible gravitational fields would "bend" electromagnetic radiation (light). Logically, if there is interaction between gravitational and electromagnetic fields, some overarching axiom must apply to both. While the scientific community is divided over the existence of this theory, and the wisdom of its pursuit, the work continues to replace complex sets of disjointed axioms with fewer and simpler ones that are common to more "nodes"--even as our knowledge grows exponentially. Meanwhile, the application of scientific principles to traditionally non-scientific fields grows as individuals, companies and organizations wrestle with the problem of managing complexity, and search for that small set of simple axioms that will allow them to rationally predict and plan for that which is irrational--the future.


copyright 1997, MG Taylor Corporation (except where noted)
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