When it was first conceived, the clockwork universe was something of a savior. In contrast to the suffering and disorder that characterized the human condition, medieval scholars saw the heavens as divine perfection obeying eternal rules. The laws of physics, the thinking went, reflected a moral as well as a natural order.
These boundaries have since softened. The natural world is more relative and fluid than we’d imagined, and our human world is run through with its own mechanisms, many of them our own creation. Physicists talk of many landscapes of physical laws and universes, and our most human characteristics are echoed and copied by both nature and technology.
If we are in a clockwork universe, there are, at the very least, many clocks, and a few of them broken.
Welcome to “Clockwork.”Read the Issue