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The Language of Nature

Stephen L. Talbott

This essay is part of a work in progress and is subject to continual revision. Date of last revision: May 10, 2007. The essay was originally published (serially) in NetFuture #167, #168, and #169. Copyright 2007 The Nature Institute. All rights reserved. You may freely redistribute this chapter for noncommercial purposes only.


To judge from some of the ancient creation narratives, the world arose as a visible manifestation of speech. "In the beginning was the Word". First there was formlessness and chaos, and then the divine voice flashed forth like lightning in the darkness. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light". The world began to assume visible, comprehensible form.

Whatever we may now think of the old visions of creation, we can remain sure of one thing: without the speaking of the Word - without language - we would have no science with its striking power to illuminate the world. This observation may seem trite; no one will deny that w