A unifying treatment

January 1st, 2011

I’ve been reading The Little Book of String Theory by Princeton Professor Steven Gubser.

In this extremely well-written book, he manages to explain some pretty heady stuff in easy-to-understand layman’s terms.

For a natural-born skeptic like me, however, it’s hard to believe all the information in the book. I have a hard enough time believing in five dimensions, let alone ten. But I also have a hard time understanding how a 300-plus ton piece of equipment can stay up in the air and yet every summer I get into one to fly to Asia.

One paragraph in this fascinating book caught my attention.

On page 132, Professor Gubser wrote, “Long lists of objects cry out for a unifying theory with fewer elementary objects and a deeper level of explanatory power.”

He went on, “Chemistry’s periodic table receives such a unifying treatment through atomic theory. Helium, argon, potassium, and copper are all as different as they ever were in chemical reactions. But atomic theory reveals that they are all composed of electrons in quantum states of vibration around an atomic nucleus composed of protons and neutrons.”

This seems to me to be the perfect analogy for the principles espoused in the AOV.

On the surface, the different techniques on the guitar – arpeggio technique, scale technique and tremolo technique – may seem completely different and unrelated to one another. But at the basic level, they’re all unified by the same basic principles.

In fact, one can go further and add that on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between the martial arts, sports, or the classical guitar, but at the fundamental level, they’re all unified by the same goals of achieving speed, power, precision, and endurance.

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