Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The shore of our ignorance

John Archibald Wheeler (1911 – 2008) is someone I must find out about.  He said: "As the island of our knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."  He was an American theoretical physicist, and one of the later collaborators of Albert Einstein.  He is also known for having coined the term black hole.  But if he never did anything except coin that phrase about the island of our knowledge and the shore of our ignorance, he would have justified his existence.   

Even though he probably borrowed the thought from TH Huxley who said "The known is finite, the unknown is infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability.  Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land." (Huxley was "Darwin's Bulldog" 1825 – 1895)

1 comment:

  1. It's a nice phrase on first hearing Pete, but how can our ignorance grow the more we learn, it doesn't make sense! We might REALISE we're more ignorant than we thought we were as we learn new things, but our actual ignorance must shrink as our knowledge grows. I like the Huxley one though!