Brian Cox was interviewed on CosmosMagazine on July 21st 2016. He gave a quote which really helps sum up some of my thoughts and confusions about Pluto/Charon.
Brian Cox quote “The most interesting questions, I think, are questions that appear to have mutually exclusive answers,” says Cox. “So when you start asking questions, such as how valuable is the human race, I take two views that appear to be opposed. “One is that physically we’re obviously insignificant. But I think we’re incredibly valuable. The reason for that is that I think in the local universe there are very few civilizations around, so we’re not likely to meet any others. “You could even argue that there are only a handful, possibly even one. And that’s enough for me to make us valuable.”
Questions with mutually exclusive answers
Most of the time, I struggle to find an answer to a question that would appear to be absolute. Then some other angle is presented and the absolute becomes questionable. I tend to want simple concrete answers, is it up or down, in or out, right or left, black or white.
When I think I understand something as being black, I become confused by the shade of gray sitting next to it and then that one shade of gray exposes multitudes of gray which I had never considered previously, before I know it, I find myself in a quagmire of what ifs, each leading to their own series of gray interpretations. Its enough, sometimes to make a person want to stop concluding anything.
One such example of this question with mutually exclusive answers which I am constantly flopping back and forth on is this. Is light a wave (of what?) or is light a photon particle (with no mass?)? When I absolutely know and am convinced its a wave, I study its particle characteristics and go back to scratching my head in confusion. If light is a wave, what's it waving, electromagnetism? Electromagnetism is a field, of what, energy? How can a massless photon particle wave a field of energy. What's a field of energy? I find myself frequently in this trap of confusion as I try to understand the dynamics of Pluto and our solar system. I draw a conclusion, it feels right, I argue its merits then I see a little shade of gray in the argument and I explore it, before I know it, I completely rip my original thought to shreds. This becomes frustrating as I feel I have to argue against my own conclusion and then I ask what's the point in drawing a conclusion when it seems to only lead to confusion.
The point is, for me anyway, I have learned a lot. Every time I draw a conclusion, I commit to it in a way that forces me to explore its strengths and weaknesses. As I dissect my conclusions I learn more and more. At some points I have been discouraged by my own indecisiveness but am now trying to embrace the confusion and the subsequent knowledge it leads to.
Is Pluto differentiated or uniform, does it have a radioactive core, is impact energy its only source of heat? How do I take two opposing views? I suppose the best I can do is argue as strongly as possible for both sides and see which tends to have more merit and then simply accept the fact that I don't know.
I don't have answers. Questions lead to more questions. That's the beauty of exploration. As long as I stay dumb, I can keep learning, questioning and growing.
Even the above statement is questionable as some questions do have answers. Gotta love it, is there no end to this loop?
I'll just leave it at this "I think, I guess, I theorize, I postulate, I suppose", "The most interesting questions have mutually exclusive answers". This is what I think I know. I think I know I don't know, I think. This keeps me dumb enough to keep asking questions.
I'm laying this ground work, for my next page which has the potential for more questions and confusion than answers so don't be too critical. These are only guesses at what I think.