True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, "Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel 'Catch-22'
has earned in its entire history?"
And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have."
And I said, "What on earth could that be, Joe?"
And Joe said, "The knowledge that I've got enough."
Not bad! Rest in peace!"
How would you define intelligence?
Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world.
What is your goal in life?
I would say in one sentence my goal is to at least be part of the journey to find the unified theory that Einstein himself was really the first to look for. He didn’t find it, but we think we’re hot on the trail.
Why is that so hard? Here’s a unified theory: Everything in the world will get worse.
That may well be true, but our goal is to find theories that make precise numerical predictions that we can test, and that’s a hard theory to test precisely.
Do you think physicists have been unfairly maligned as eggheads?
Is it maligning to be called an egghead? I strive for it. We’re on this planet for the briefest of moments in cosmic terms, and I want to spend that time thinking about what I consider the deepest questions.
links for 2010-12-23