Particle Physics and Gothic Cathedrals

David Lindley, The End of Physics. The Myth of a Unified Theory, 1993. From Chapter 9, The New Heat Death

Particle physicists have sometimes drawn an analogy between their machines and the Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe – both, in their own ways, monuments to a search for truth by their respective communities. The analogy may be more apt that physicists would like: Gothic cathedrals occupied generations of now nameless carpenters and masons.

Still, the Gothic cathedrals were built, and remain today. Physicists may feel that if the world is prepared to foot the bill, they are prepared to embark on efforts that they will not see finished in their lifetimes.


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