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Physics as Pilgrimage

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University, PO Box 6010, Flagstaff, AZ86011, USA

Special Issues: Inviting papers for a special issue on Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage typically refers to a religious quest or journey. Can science ever be viewed as a sort of pilgrimage, even retaining some of the religious hallmarks thereof? Employing the views of Joseph Campbell, a widely-known religious thinker, and Albert Einstein, creator of the special and general theories of relativity, I so argue for the case of theoretical physics—the most basic and fundamental physical science. I then sketch the centuries-long (and still ongoing) development of physical ideas of space from Newton to Einstein. These ideas, while relatively accessible to non-physicists, are of the most profound physical significance, determining the large-scale behavior of not only Earth, but the cosmos itself. I argue how their development may, in consonance with Campbell and Einstein, be viewed as a sort of pilgrimage.
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