Physical abstraction.

Author:Futterman, J.A.H.
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

As a physicist, I must take issue with Timothy George's statement that "by itself, abstraction will always lead us away from what is truly real" ("The Pattern of Christian Truth," June/July). I believe that any honest line of inquiry, pursued conscientiously, with loving regard for its subject, will point toward God. I support this contention with an example:

Steven Weinberg (co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979) is an atheist who has been quoted as saying that the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless. And yet in his textbook, The Quantum Theory of Fields, he states, "It is natural to identify the states of a specific particle type with the components of a representation of the inhomogeneous Lorentz group, which is irreducible."

The inhomogeneous Lorentz group is a collection of transformations of an object or an observer in space and time. These transformations are rotations (spinning around), translations (standing at different places), and boosts (which are shifts to a frame of reference that is moving at a high, but constant, velocity). The Lorentz group is significant in that equations of both relativity and electromagnetism are invariant under its transformations. There are a number of mathematical ways to represent the Lorentz group. Any set of symbols and rules to manipulate them will do, provided they behave the same way the Lorentz group does. Those representations that cannot be decomposed into subgroups that also represent the Lorentz group are said to be irreducible.

What we have here, then, is the statement that representations of the invariance group of relativity are the platonic forms of the basic constituents of all presently understood matter and energy in the universe. To me, if not to Weinberg, this...

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