This guys sounds crazy. What people of your generation don’t know is that he has always sounded crazy. But when I was his student I discovered that if you take one his crazy ideas and you unwrap the layers of craziness from it one after another like lifting the layers off an onion, at the heart of the idea you will often find a powerful kernel of truth.
Misner, Charles W, Kip S Thorne, and Wojciech H Zurek. “John Wheeler, Relativity, and Quantum Information.” Physics Today. Apr 2009. Web. 8 Apr 2011.
I am reluctant… to be too dismissive, because Wheeler has earned the right to be heeded…. His gaze is still focused on the conceptual frontiers of cosmology – the “flaming ramparts of the world,” as he calls them.
Rees, Martin J. Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1997. Print.
….the importance of Wheeler’s technical contributions to physics gives his statements a weight that, coming from any other source, they would not have.Frank Wilczek
Wilcek, Frank A. “A Range of Physics.” Science 242.4878 (1988) : 603 -604. Web. 8 Apr 2011.
So many times when Wheeler talked about “Law without Law” I thought, That’s nuts! But now I am not so willing to dismiss it.
Wheeler might have been dismissed as fun but flaky long ago if he had not had such unassailable credentials.
Horgan, John. The End of Science. Random House Digital, Inc., 1997. Print.
Many younger physicists, my earlier self included, have tended to discount or underrate Wheeler, partly because of this somewhat flamboyant style…..What he does well is to ask questions that at first sound naive and to which the answer seems sure not to be science – that is, not to be falsifiable – but more often than not there is real science that can be done in answer to them.
Anderson, Philip. “Echoes of Physics’ Delphic Oracle.” The Times Higher Education Supplement (March 11, 2005) Web. 19 May 2011 http://www.metanexus.net/ultimate_reality/PDF/anderson
For me, Johnny Wheeler started out as a kind of anti-model, who became a role model as I matured enough to understand the depth of thought behind his enigmatic slogans.
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2008/04/13/goodbye/ quoted with Dr. Smolin’s permission
…Dick Feynman told me about his “sum over histories” version of quantum mechanics. “The electron does anything it likes,” he said. “It just goes in any direction at any speed, forward or backward in time, however it like, and then you add up the amplitudes and it gives you the wave-function.” I said to him, “You’re crazy.” But he wasn’t.
Now John Wheeler is saying similar things at an even more basic level. He says, “The whole universe does what it likes, and then you observe it and it gives you the laws of physics. Freedom from law produces law.” I say again, “You’re crazy.” But he isn’t.
Woolf, Harry, ed. Some Strangeness in the Proportion: A Centennial Symposium to Celebrate the Achievements of Albert Einstein. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Advanced Book Program, 1980