The Tao of Physics

yingQuantum theory reveals a basic oneness of the Universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated “building blocks,” but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole.

These relations always include the observer in an essential way. The human observer constitutes the final link in the chain of observational processes, and the properties of any atomic object can be understood only in terms of the object’s interaction with the observer.

Scientists are responsible for their research, not only intellectually but also morally. This responsibility has become an important issue in many of today’s sciences, but especially so in physics, in which the results of quantum mechanics and relativity theory have opened up two very different paths for physicists to pursue.

They may lead us – to put it in extreme terms – to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each of us to decide which path to take.

Both the physicist and the mystic want to communicate their knowledge, and when they do so with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions.

A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of enquiries into the nature of the Universe.  ― Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics

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