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In the last 400 years or so, since the time of the scientific revolution, we have come to find it natural to suppose that the world is comprehensible.

Nature and its laws, operating in things most small as well as in the cosmos as a whole, are understandable.

And, yet, the biologist J.B.S. Haldane, quoted in Samuel Arbesman's intriguing new book being release July 19, Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, has written: "Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but it is queerer than we can suppose."

It isn't just the world of physics that has come to seem so exceedingly strange — at the level of the quantum and also that of the multiverse — but consciousness itself. We human beings seem to resist inclusion in a uniform, coherent conception of reality. How is it that human experience arises from the sorts of goings-on quantum physics teaches us, finally, that we are?

It's not just that the more we know, the more we realize how much more there is to know. It's that the more we know, the less we seem to understand.

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