Science Metaphors

Tell all the truth but tell it slant – Emily Dickinson

Science can be difficult to describe: all that maths, the weird words, and ungraspable quantum physics. That’s why analogies and metaphors are so useful in science. And so comforting:

We find it easier to reason by comparing unfamiliar with familiar, falling back on experience, looking for links between things, and seeking out pattern and meaning.  – Joel Levy, A Bee in a Cathedral

Science abounds in comparisons: a greenhouse to explain global warming; a cat in a box to illustrate a paradox; and Kepler’s clockwork solar system. One of my favourites compares quantum physics to jazz and general relativety to a waltz:

General relativity is like Strauss — deep, dignified and graceful. Quantum theory, like jazz, is disconnected, syncopated, and dazzlingly modern. – Margaret Wertheim, Physics’s Pangolin

Photo: Shrödinger’s Cat in a super position

shrodingerscat

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