ON THE NATURE OF REALITY

einstein-tagoreON THE NATURE OF REALITY
(Albert Einstein in Conversation with Rabindranath Tagore )

Rabindranath Tagore visited Einstein’s house in Caputh, near Berlin, on July 14, 1930. The discussion between the two great men was recorded, and was subsequently published in the January, 1931 issue of Modern Review.

TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality.

EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the divine isolated from the world?
TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of man comprehends the universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the universe is human truth.

EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe—the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as reality independent of the human factor.
TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.

EINSTEIN: This is a purely human conception of the universe.
TAGORE: The world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. Therefore, the world apart from us does not exist; it is a relative world, depending for its reality upon our consciousness. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it truth, the standard of the eternal man whose experiences are made possible through our experiences.

EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.
TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through
our emotions and activities. We realize the supreme man, who
has no individual limitations, through our limitations.
Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of truths. Religion realizes these truths and links them up with our deeper needs. Our individual consciousness of truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to truth, and we know truth as good through
own harmony with it.

EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or beauty, is not independent of man?
TAGORE: No, I do not say so.

EINSTEIN: If there were no human beings any more, the Apollo Belvedere no longer would be beautiful?

TAGORE: No!

EINSTEIN: I agree with this conception of beauty, but not with regard to truth.

TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through men.

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove my conception is right, but that is my religion.

TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony, which is in the universal being; truth is the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness. How otherwise can we know truth?

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove, but I believe in the Pythagorean argument, that the truth is independent of human beings. It is the problem of the logic of continuity.

TAGORE : Truth, which is one with the universal being, must be essentially human; otherwise, whatever we individuals realize as true, never can be called truth. At least, the truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic—in other words, by an organ of thought which is human. According to the Indian philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute truth, which cannot be conceived by the
isolation of the individual mind or described by words, but can be realized only by merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance; that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind, and therefore is human, and may be called maya, or illusion.

EINSTEIN: It is no illusion of the individual, but of the species.
TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes truth; the Indian and the European mind meet in a common realization.

EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings; as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it. The problem is whether truth is independent of our consciousness.

TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the super-personal man.

EINSTEIN: We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible. The mind acknowledges realities outside of it, independent of it. For instance, nobody may be in this house, yet that table remains where it is.

TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table is that which is perceptible by some kind of consciousness we possess.

EINSTEIN: If nobody were in the house the table would exist all the same, but this is already illegitimate from your point of view, because we cannot explain what it means, that the table is there, independently of us. Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack—not even primitive beings. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity. It is indispensable for us—this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind—though we cannot say what it means.

TAGORE: In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing.

EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!
TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the super-personal man, the universal spirit, in my own individual being.

This is one of the most beautiful conversations I have come across so far. It was first shared with me by a very close friend of mine in the early days of my professional career. It has been over the web world across hundreds of sites, but I was able to re encounter with it on the below mentioned website:

https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/wp-content/uploads/

Thanks.

Bohr’s Tall Story

A physics student at the University of Copenhagen was once faced with the following challenge:

“Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper using a barometer.”

The student replied: “Tie a long piece of string to the barometer, lower it from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building.”

This answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed immediately. However, the student appealed on the grounds that the answer was indisputably correct, and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide. The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but that it did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem, it was decided to call the student and allow six minutes for him to provide an oral answer.

For five minutes the student sat in silence, his forehead creased in thought. When the arbiter pointed out that time was running out, the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers but could not decide which to use.

Firstly, you could take a barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge and measure the time it takes to reach the ground, but too bad for the barometer.

Second:“If the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper’s shadow, and thereafter it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic.

Third: “If you wanted to be highly scientific, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it as a pendulum, first at ground level, then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height of the building can be calculated from the difference in the pendulum’s period.

Fourth: “If the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easy to walk up it and mark off the height in barometer lengths.

Fifth:  “If you wanted to be boring and orthodox, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference into a height of air.

But since we are continually being urged to seek new ways of doing things, probably the best way would be to knock on the janitor’s door and say: ‘If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this building’.”niels-bohr[1]_0

The student was allegedly Niels Bohr.

Known is a drop, unknown is an ocean…

Dear reader,

I am feeling very happy to share with you my first ever blog, which I am starting along with my journey of Physics. I have selected the name ‘PhysicsChanakya‘ for this, both as a tribute to the subject and to my most favourite historical character and one the most revolutionary Gurus of all time , Chanakya, who was a teacher, author, philosopher, economist, royal advisor and one of the greatest Kingmakers of all time.

I am starting the blog with a story which has been quite close to my heart ever since I started my relation with this subject. I had very first time read it in a popular Gujarati magazine, ‘Safari’ and since then its inscribed on my heart.

Hope you will like it too.

This blog will be a platform to share with you all some of the most interesting stories, anecdotes, incidents, Quotes, Articles which will certainly strengthen your relationship with science, and one of its most important sub branches, Physics.

I chose Physics because it is the science to understand nature.  The spectrum of Physics is vast. It’s spread from smallest of particles (proton, neutron, electron etc.) to the Space having infinite dimensions. There is no end to the depths we can go into this huge ocean. What we know and will be able to know in a life time, is only a drop of this ocean.

May this journey help us all understand nature better, take us close to the mother nature and to the pursuit of  truth.