Peter Grünberg RIP

 

Dr. Grünberg, Nobel laureate
Peter Grünberg (1939-2018) in 2007, the year that he won the Nobel Prize in Physics
(Wikimedia Commons public domain)

 

In 2007, the German physicist Peter Grünberg was awarded the Nobel Prize for his role in the discovery of giant magnetoresistance, or GMR.  Dr. Grünberg died a week ago, on 7 April 2018.

 

In his memory, I offer some quotations — in my own hasty English translation — from an interview with him that appeared in the December 2007 issue of Cicero: Magazin für Politische Kultur:

 

Cicero:  “Professor Grünberg, as a natural scientist do you believe in God?”

Peter Grünberg:  “Naturally, yes.  I grew up as a strict Catholic, and I think that I benefited from that.  But I go along with Lessing’s ‘Parable of the Ring’ [a famous story from the classic drama of the German Enlightenment Nathan der Weise].  Which of the three rings is the authentic one?  Which promises its wearer love to and from humanity and to life?  Each of the three great world religions might be the right one or the wrong one.  We should not judge rituals right or wrong.  That’s the way to potential conflict.  Who has the truth?  The ‘Parable of the Ring’ demands that each strive for love, in tolerance to our fellow humans.  Perhaps he or she has the true ring?  But there isn’t one single right ring.  An endless quest . . .”

Cicero:  “This endless quest.  Do you believe in immortality?”

Peter Grünberg:  “Yes.  I certainly think there’s a chance of it.  I could, of course, be like a crystal: At the moment of my death tossed into water and, dissolving and rising into my surroundings, becoming a part of the whole.  I can imagine that as the end, too.  I can’t imagine a heaven and an afterlife.  Although I’m a Catholic, paradise and hell seem to be very naive concepts.  I don’t think of the afterlife in such terms.”

Cicero:  “And yet?”

Peter Grünberg:  “But, yes, there is more than we in the material world can see and comprehend.  There’s something more, absolutely, certainly, so.  Consider the universe:  We often judge things according to the way we experienced them in childhood.  If an experience agrees with our early impressions, we say, ‘Yes, that’s right.’  But now I pose this question to myself:  What is beyond the universe?  There’s always an end, a wall.  But just as I learned as a child, I’ve learned that, beyond the wall, there is still always something.  That’s a conflict that we have to live with.  Endlessness.  It’s the incomprehensible.  There it is.  Without question.” . . .

Cicero:  “My final question:  What is your final question?”

Peter Grünberg:  “Professionally, the open question of chaos theory interests me.  But the absolutely final question?  Is there really a God?  I never pose this question in the hope that I can settle it.  I know that I can never know it.  It’s unanswerable and will remain so.  Was there really a Big Bang, as we picture it today?  Is this extrapolation perhaps completely wrong?  Maybe it was completely different than we think?  But what existed before?  God?”

 

I trust that Professor Grünberg is satisfied now, in his new surroundings.

 

***

 

A very short but interesting little piece, though I can’t personally vouch for his numbers:

 

“How many Nobel laureates of physics believe in God?”

 

***

 

Some science stories that might be especially interesting to Latter-day Saints:

 

“Regular excess drinking can take years off your life, study finds”

 

“More than 5 drinks a week could shorten lives by years, study finds: Current guidelines for drinking alcohol could be too high, a new study shows”

 

This one explicitly mentions Mormons:

 

“Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer?  The science on the link is clear, but the alcohol industry has worked hard to downplay it.”

 

And, on a very different topic:

 

“Yes, You Can Sweat Blood”

 

***

 

Here’s a fascinating item that should cause concern to at least some of my most vociferous critics:

 

“Crows are as intelligent as a seven-year-old human”

 

They have competition, and it may be gaining on them.

 

***

 

And, finally, I’m really interested to see what comes of this:

 

“The Next Generation Exoplanet Hunter Launches Monday: Kepler was the planet counter. TESS will help us tell their stories.”

 

Posted from Phoenix, Arizona

 

 

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