Alda: As you talk, you have many references from literature
that you draw on, and a lot of jokes I hear, which is…
Edelman: There has to be some alleviation.
Alda: I get the impression it's not just a vacation you
take, it's the way you think.
finds science "beautifully weird"
Edelman: You know, Alan, you have the skill of a psychoanalyst.
I hope you don't take that as an insult. You've drawn me out,
I need to tell you. I am interested in science for three reasons.
The first is, it's general, the laws apply everywhere. That
was Galileo's extraordinary insight, and Newton's behind that,
and finally, with Einstein it's unbelievable. Second of all,
it's predictive, at least in some of the occasions, not all,
but that's a very satisfactory thing. And finally, sometimes
it's beautifully weird. It's something you never thought of.
But, you know, there's one thing about this. In the aim for
generality, you lose the particular individualistic flavor
that makes life particularly what it is. And there's nothing
like a story, and a funny story, because having a funny story
really doesn't rest in the punch line, it rests in the weird
individuality of the build up. Now, maybe you don't agree…
Alda: Oh, no, the front part of a joke is the most neglected
part. It's the only part that makes it interesting.
Edelman: So, you know, anecdote and narration is what
it means to be human, is to do an extraordinary thing called
Alda: It's very interesting that, here you are, spearheading
this place that looks so far into the future and places such
a high priority on theory, and yet, you've told me a couple
of times today that you're the son of a doctor that listened
to the particular story of his patients.
Edelman: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Alda: And that seems to have made a big impression on
"Everything, in my opinion, is a story."
Edelman: Well, it has, because, in fact, everything, in
my opinion, is a story. Let's try cosmology. You can calculate
all you want about black holes and the big bang and what have
you, but you still have to tell the story, even if you weren't
there. There is no other way that I know of, and I think there's
that balance between the two, that once language comes, there
is a whole universe of possibility, including science itself,
but they don't sit exactly on top of each other.
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