Jim Holt has a new book out, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story. Robert Krulwich recently wondered which is bigger, your brain or the universe:
There are philosophers and scientists who say we will never understand the universe, we can’t fathom the endless details or make good sense of the whole. We can try, but the universe is too big. The writer John Updike once explained the argument this way to reporter Jim Holt:
“It’s beyond our intellectual limits as a species. Put yourself into the position of a dog. A dog is responsive, shows intuition, looks at us with eyes behind which there is intelligence of a sort, and yet a dog must not understand most of the things it sees people doing. It must have no idea how they invented, say, the internal combustion engine. So maybe what we need to do is imagine that we’re dogs and that there are realms that go beyond our understanding.”
Our brains are magnificent compared to other creatures here on Earth, but up against the universe, we are pitiful.