There’s a quote widely attributed to Feynman that goes like this: “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” Yet quantum mechanics, as weird as it is, is considered to be the most experimentally accurate theory we’ve ever known. Despite that, no one seems to have any clue what it all really means. Our inability to attribute satisfactory meaning to such abstract concepts is disconcerting. Throughout most of the history of science, scientific theories have been understood via analogies from our perceptual experience. Could it be that we’ve reached a stage in science (in particular, theoretical physics) where the underlying phenomena that we want to understand are simply inaccessible to our human brains? Could it be that different perceptual capabilities (of say, an extraterrestrial lifeform) could give rise to a scientific framework where the abstract things that puzzle us would be obvious and natural? Or is there an intrinsic abstractness about the fundamental laws of physics that is inherently inaccessible by any scientific method biased by perceptually guided intuition?
On the perceptual accessibility of abstract physical laws