Last night I watched a terrific swot as he explained the latest developments in quantum physics. When I went to bed, I had to inform the 'Memsahib' that sex was off the menu because I had a headache - and, no, I am not going to tell you her response which was really quite hurtful! Actually, the swot concerned gave me the impression that detailed knowledge of the crazy world of sub-atomic particles had simply (or perhaps that should be 'complicatedly') not progressed very far from the days, forty-odd years ago, when I first began to try and grasp it. The impression I gained from the programme was that although hard, proven explanations had rather stalled, imaginative, esoteric ones had increased enormously and I felt rather like poor Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole!
We can expect huge advances on three frontiers: the very small, the very large, and the very complex. Nonetheless—and I’m sticking my neck out here—my hunch is there’s a limit to what we can understand. Efforts to understand very complex systems, such as our own brains, might well be the first to hit such limits. Perhaps complex aggregates of atoms, whether brains or electronic machines, can never know all there is to know about themselves. And we might encounter another barrier if we try to follow Weinberg’s arrows further down: if this leads to the kind of multidimensional geometry that string theorists envisage. Physicists might never understand the bedrock nature of space and time because the mathematics is just too hard. [My emphasis]
Oh, terrific, I now feel so much better about myself!