Ed Regis

Ed Regis is the author of Who Got Einstein’s Office? and Great Mambo Chickens and the Transhuman Conditions. His book about molecular nanotechnology, Nano!, will appear next year.

Never before has so much been known about the world, and the time has long passed – if it ever existed – when one person could collect it all in a single consciousness. Science is the paradigmatic case of the accumulation of knowledge: it has given us knowledge in the truest, most certain and genuine sense, and has been fabulously successful at it. Biologists have tracked life to its molecular basis. They’ve identified the main functional molecule of living things, DNA. They’ve mapped its structure, broken it apart, spliced it together again, and have manipulated the molecule to make new living organisms. They’ve corrected faulty gene sequences in human beings, thereby curing people of diseases from which they would otherwise die. And within the last twenty years they’ve wiped at least one ancient and dread disease off the face of the planet.’

Swami

Ed Regis, 26 May 1994

Richard Feynman was the world’s number-one physicist (after Einstein), a well-known genius, a self-described ‘curious character’ who was involved in some of the formative events of 20th-century science: the Manhattan Project, quantum mechanics, the birth of quantum electrodynamics. Feynman’s mind roamed over every conceivable branch of Science. He ought to be a perfect subject for any biographer. In 1959, while ‘on sabbatical’, he studied molecular biology and even here did work that was later cited by researchers in the field, including Francis Crick. Feynman made advances in subjects ranging from nanotechnology to quark jets to the fundamental limits of computation. He seemed to know everything and everyone in science. He was well-loved by most of those who knew him, all of whom had Feynman stories to tell.

What’s the hurry?

Ed Regis, 24 June 1993

Until roughly the 20th century, physics was concerned with the realities of ordinary experience: light, heat and sound; motion, acceleration, falling bodies; gases, fluids, solids; electricity, magnetism and so on and so forth through the world of phenomena. Then in 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays; in 1897, J.J. Thompson discovered the electron; in 1914, Rutherford discovered the proton – and all at once a new branch of physics had come into existence: elementary particle theory, dealing with the hidden realities, the fundamental entities that underlie the observed phenomena of everyday life.

Thinking big

Peter Campbell, 26 September 1991

Great ideas share skulls with foolish thoughts. Nonsense runs with greatness, like vermin in a zoo, and no intellectual pesticide can guarantee to kill it and leave truth alive. Common sense has...

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Thinking

Peter Campbell, 4 August 1988

I was in Los Angeles this spring on the day Richard Feynman died. The next morning I saw a banner lowered from the top of the tower block which stands in the middle of the Caltech campus. It...

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