Inside knowledge: Why we'll never know everything

 作者:祭饲     |      日期:2019-03-01 07:15:05
Jamie Mills By Richard Webb ULTIMATELY, the jumbo shrimp tells us why we are doomed to never fully understand reality. But let’s back up a bit first. We know we live in a universe where there are hard physical limits to what we can know. Light’s finite speed restricts our ability to see in time and space, quantum uncertainty our understanding of subatomic particles. So what? Our largest telescopes look back to a few hundred million years after the big bang, while our sharpest microscopes can spy on individual photons escaping from atoms. The universe is as it is, and we work quite well within its limits. True, we can’t explain what happens at the big bang, or inside a black hole – but that’s just a matter of devising better theories of nature and ways to test them. So to know more we need to compute better. Easier said than done. Were we able to simulate the fine-grained movements of all the universe’s matter, we might predict its evolution and fate. But with current computing power, that would take more time than the universe has to offer. Computational power is a practical limitation we can blame for everything from unreliable weather forecasts to shoddy logistics: once you try to optimise an itinerary linking more than a few thousand destinations,