Saturday, January 29, 2005

A physicist offers a new and controversial way
of understanding evolution.
By Scott D. O’Reilly

Dr. John Archibald Wheeler is professor emeritus of physics at both Princeton and the University of Texas. Now in his ninth decade, Wheeler is one of science’s grand elder statesmen. He is a link between scientific giants -- such as his colleagues Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr -- and a new generation of scientific whizzes whom he helped train, such as Cal Tech’s Kip Thorne. Dr. Wheeler has made impressive contributions to many fields, ranging from quantum mechanics (which deals with the infinitely small realm of subatomic particles) to cosmology (which deals with the unimaginably vast regions of outer space). Indeed, it is Wheeler who coined the term “black hole” to describe what happens when a star collapses upon itself, exerting such gravitational force that it distorts the fabric of space and time, causing time to slow down and preventing even light from escaping. But not even black holes seem strange and farfetched in comparison to Wheeler’s idea of genesis by observership.