Limitations of human brain mean we may never understand the secrets of universe, says Britain’s top scientist
2010-06-21 0:00


The limitations of the human brain mean some of the biggest mysteries of the universe may never be solved, a top scientist has claimed.

According to President of the Royal Society Lord Rees, questions about the big bang and the existence of parallel universes may be never be resolved because of the built-in limitations of mankind.

Lord Rees, left, told The Sunday Times: ‘A “true” fundamental theory of the universe may exist but could be just too hard for human brains to grasp.
’Just as a fish may be barely aware of the medium in which it lives and swims, so the microstructure of empty space could be far too complex for unaided human brains.’

Lord Rees’s prediction has been prompted by the failure of scientists to reconcile the forces that govern the behaviour of the cosmos with those that rule the ‘microworld’ of atoms and particles.

While Einstein used mathematical calculations to build his 1915 theory of general relativity and 20th century physicists devised quantum theory, no scientist has since found the tools to unify the two.

Lord Rees added: ‘Some aspects of reality – a unified theory of physics or a full understanding of consciousness – might elude us simply because they’re beyond human brains, just as surely as Einstein’s ideas would baffle a chimpanzee.’

‘There are powerful reasons to suspect that space has a grainy structure but on a scale a trillion trillion times smaller than atoms.
’Solving how this might work is crucial for 21st-century science,’ the royal astronomer said.

He added that there could even be other 3-D universes ‘embedded alongside ours’.

’In theory, there could be another entire universe less than a millimetre away from us, but we are oblivious to it because that millimetre is measured in a fourth spatial dimension and we are imprisoned in just three,’ he said.

However, some scientists are more optimistic about whether humanity has reached the limits of comprehension.

BBC science presenter Dr Brian Cox, who was awarded an OBE yesterday, said: ‘The idea that certain things are beyond us is quite a bleak one and history does show that we can eventually overcome the most difficult of problems.’

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