Why should there be a ‘why’?

[Quantum theory’s] peculiarity is such as to raise with some force the question of whether this is indeed what subatomic nature is ‘really like’ or whether quantum mechanics is no more than a convenient, if strange, manner of speaking that enables us to do the sums.

–John Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Three is an amazing age. The three-year-old’s world is packed full of mysteries waiting to be unravelled, and the brain has just developed the capacity to reason, to piece together how things work, to ask why. When children are prone to asking why incessantly, we call them curious. When the why┬ábug persists into adulthood, they usually prefer to be called scientists. It’s the motivating force of much of scientific research, but there are hints to suggest that some scientific frontiers could be approaching the limits of why.

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Why should there be a ‘why’?