A Chess Metaphor for Understanding Physics Through Science

One way, that's kind of a fun analogy in trying to get some idea of what we're doing in trying to understand nature, is to imagine that the gods are playing some great game like chess, let's say, and you don't know the rules of the game, but you're allowed to look at the board, at least from time to time, in a little corner, perhaps, and from these observations you try to figure out what the rules of the game are, what the rules of the pieces moving are. You might discover after a bit, for example, that when there's only one bishop around on the board that the bishop maintains its color. Later on you might discover the law for the bisohp as it moves on the diagonal which would explain the law that you understood before--that it maintained its color--and that would be analogous to discovering one law and then later finding a deeper understanding of it. Then things can happen, everything's going good, you've got all the laws, it looks very good and then all of a sudden some strange phenomenon occurs in some corner, so you begin to investigate that--it's castling, something you didn't expect. We're always, by the way, in fundamental physics, always trying to investigate those things in which we don't understand the conclusion. After we've checked them enough, we're okay.


Physics is like attempting to figure out the rules of chess by watching games being played.

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 Horizon: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book Chapter:  Feynman, Richard (1981), Horizon: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, BBC2, Retrieved on 2010-11-07
Folksonomies: science


15 NOV 2013

 The World as a Black Box

The World is a Black Box > Example/Illustration > A Chess Metaphor for Understanding Physics Through Science
Two metaphors for the scientific method and the human condition for understanding reality.