Friday, July 08, 2011

Scientific Mystery

This week's email is dedicated to our friend Steve Goldstein, who had his second brain operation yesterday to remove a malignant tumor. Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery! (to dedicate a future Table Talk, send an email)

Just back from Israel.

On the flight back from Tel Aviv to New York, I witnessed something that I would guess very few people ever see.

I will give you the facts that I know, and see if any of our astute subscribers can solve this one.

The plane left at around midnight and arrived around 4:20 am (both local times).

At some point during the flight, I woke from my slumber to see a beautiful sunrise in the making. The horizon (I was on the right side of the plane) was filled with a thin but gorgeous band of colors.

An hour later, the sky was completely black again, and when we landed in New York one could see a hint of the earliest dawn light, but it was still dark out.

Question: What 3 unusual factors coincided in order to make this phenomenon possible?

This trip enabled me to reconnect to my friend Raffi, currently working on a Master's in physics at the Hebrew University after completing 15 years in yeshiva.

I complimented Raffi for pursuing the Rambam's (i.e., Maimonides) vision for science. Learning about nature, says Rambam, is REQUIRED for the path of transcendence.

Raffi retorted, "Many people say that, but that's a misreading of the Rambam." He says it's the CONTEMPLATION of nature, not merely learning it. If you spend all your time crunching the numbers and never step back to appreciate it, you're missing the point."

(Note, Raffi is preparing for an examine in lasers.)

Question #2 for your Table: Assuming Raffi is right, is the scientist better able or less able than the non-scientist to contemplate the amazing natural world?

Shabbat Shalom

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.
- Albert Einstein

PPS - Don't forget to print and share!

No comments: