There are lessons for all, even in astrophysics. The laws and intellectual delineations involved in deciphering and predicting the cosmos also articulates the backbone of many principles in our social world, if we just stop. And listen. I thought of this while reading a paragraph from Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality, a layman-oriented investigation of alternate universes as envisioned and predicted by the radically esoteric world of quantum physics.
…the art of theoretical physics lies in simplifying the horrendously complex so as to preserve essential physical features while making the theoretical analysis tractable. It’s the art of knowing what to ignore. Through the so-called cosmological principle, Einstein established a simplifying framework that initiated the art and the science of theoretical cosmology.
My general conception of this principle is that as something is viewed from distances distant enough to render fine detail not legible to the human eye, the homogeneity of the body increases because the small dispersed parcels of inhomogeneity become so numerous, and therefore, predictable, so as to assume an average of occurrence when seen at a sufficiently imperceptible distance. If something is viewed very closely, the inhomogeneous micro-nature of the mass becomes noticeable. When seen from a sufficiently (and theoretically) distant or removed perspective, all objects will display the sum average of their infinitesimal elements and parts. When viewed closely, these supposedly disparate parts will appear as random and incongruous items and not part of some large, predictable and uniform system. As our perspective becomes micro in nature, homogeneity subsides.
The key then is to determine the mass minimally required in order to reasonably conclude that it is typically representative of all other masses. This depends on its uniformity which in turn dictates just how vast the sample must be. Once this minimal sampling threshold is established, all one needs to do is take an easily obtained sample and extrapolate its measurement against the span of items in existence which you cannot necessarily view or study but which can be predicted by the averaged level of inhomogeneity which has likewise been verified as a valid predictor.
The key, as Brian Greene noted, is knowing what to ignore.
What to ignore.
This is where the artistry and genius manifests.
I’ve noticed the line separating the feeble-minded and the sharp-minded is the ability (or inability) to concisely shed extraneous and unnecessary items (due to any number of factors, such as redundancy, irrelevance, etc) and thus surgically minimize the orgy of competing factors our mind must sieve through our Logic Machine in order to whittle the input into a few key, immutable factors. The sharp mind has a natural and effortless way about it; the sharp mind instinctively flushes the inhomogeneities that don’t contribute toward the putative path to knowledge or awareness. The sharp mind recognizes what belongs and what doesn’t.
The feeble-minded, on the other hand, get lost and muddled in the quagmire of data, and unable to recognize, and thus purge, the trivial or inconsequential, consider all the data haphazardly and the mishmash snowballs into further confusion and incomprehensibility. The glut of variables overpowers the mind. This is what the sharp mind does that the dull mind does not. For if the basis for minimizing and alleviating the preposterous burden of data is not established immediately, the mind is stymied and sluggish. It can move no further. It can try. But tasks the mind is better suited to handle are stillborn while it attempts to unburden itself of the paralyzing load of unrefined info. For in the filter of knowledge, the ability to extricate thorny non-essential facts and segregate them into the Ignore category is the first step toward distilling knowledge and self-awareness.