Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Metaphysics Quiz for Physicists

Are periodic tables of the elements

1) discoveries, or

2) inventions?

That is, does a periodic table correspond to something that exists independently of it, pointing us toward that reality; or is it a way human minds can impose an arbitrary order upon an otherwise confusing set of perceptions?

Are there really such substances as helium and polonium "out there" or are they just conventions that enable us manipulate matter in the ways we want?

If you choose 1) explain why there is a correspondence between such tables and reality.
If you choose 2) explain why these tables "work."

You have one hour. ; )

No comments: