2011-05-09

The Increase of Mystery

One day Pang asked Mazu, "How is it that water has neither bone nor muscle, yet is able to hold up a big barge? What is the underlying principle?"
Mazu said, "For my part there is neither water nor boat. So, what is this bone and muscle you speak of?"
(The Sayings of Layman Pang, #5: "The Bone and Muscle of Water")


Mazu's reply maybe drops the bottom out --
A conversation stopper.
The Pang of hunger for explanation
Can be fed, can't be satiated.
Today, 8th-graders in science class learn
The "underlying principle":
Upward buoyancy force is equal to the the weight of the water the boat displaces,
My darlings.
Archimedes worked that out before Pang's time --
Far away in Greece.
Later, later, Western physics got quantum, and came around to
(something at least superficially similar to)
What Mazu said:
No water, no boat --
Only probability functions of subatomic particle-waves.
Because it is empty it can hold up the world,
My darlings.
Because it is nothing, it can do anything.
Pang asked Newton a physics question.
Neils Bohr answered.
The growth of knowledge is measured by the increase of mystery.