a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Mach's influence on physics and Kurt Gödel


Principle of mutability (Part 2)
John Wheeler Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments
In particle physics when we have particles collide, we may have strangeness, we may have parity, we may have charge, we may have a Baryon number, a Lepton number - we have a variety of numbers which serve to characterize particles and help keep track of what can happen in a collision, to find the commonality between the particles that come out and the particles that went in by saying the strangeness is conserved, or parity is conserved or not conserved and so on. But mutability is the argument that there is nothing that can't be 'un-conserved' if we look hard enough at processes that are extreme enough. Well somebody might very well say "What about electric charge?" Yes, we don't know any process that violates the Law of Conservation of Electric Charge, so if one believes in the principle of mutability, you'll keep looking for a process where electric charge is not conserved. I'm not immediately animated to go on a raging tearing search for such a process because I don't envisage it right now.

John Wheeler, one of the world's most influential physicists, is best known for coining the term 'black holes', for his seminal contributions to the theories of quantum gravity and nuclear fission, as well as for his mind-stretching theories and writings on time, space and gravity.

Listeners: Ken Ford

Ken Ford took his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1953 and worked with Wheeler on a number of research projects, including research for the Hydrogen bomb. He was Professor of Physics at the University of California and Director of the American Institute of Physicists. He collaborated with John Wheeler in the writing of Wheeler's autobiography, 'Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics' (1998).

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008