“Can a single stone from a time
That used to be
Hold the memories of conversations
That mean so much to me”
Adapted from “Memory Motel” by The Rolling Stones (Jagger/Richards)
Theoretical Physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) coined the term “black hole”, worked on the Manhattan Project that led to development of Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, and championed theories in gravity and relativity. In an interview late in his life he spoke of receiving a stone from the garden at Plato’s Academy (“Akademeia” c. 385 BC) in Athens:
Albert Einstein wrote that “every true theorist is a kind of tamed metaphysicist”. Wheeler, who collaborated with Einstein, moved productively between Aristotelian Realism (Universals exist in things) and Platonic Realism (Universals can exist in abstraction). This “miracle creed” helped transform theoretical and quantum physics.
Wheeler was consumed by the idea that “human consciousness” shapes the past and present, a topic that he foreshadows might have been a topic of conversation between Plato and Aristotle:
Imagine the shadowy voice of Plato asking Aristotle: “How come existence?”. Aristotle might look to John Wheeler for information on that.