If all that we ever know are the sensory images that appear in our minds, how can we be sure there is a physical reality behind our perceptions? Is it not just an assumption? My answer is: Yes, it is an assumption; nevertheless, it seems a most plausible one.

First, there are definite constraints on our experience. For example, we cannot walk through walls. If we try to, we suffer predictable consequences. Nor can we, when awake, float through the air or walk upon water.

Second, our experiences generally follow well-defined laws and principles. Balls thrown through the air follow precisely defined paths. Cups of coffee cool at similar rates. The sun rises on time.

Third, this predictability is consistent. We all experience similar patterns. The simplest way, by far, of accounting for these constraints and for their consistency is to assume that there is indeed a physical reality. We may not know it directly, but we believe it is there.

To reveal the nature of this underlying reality has been the goal of much scientific endeavor. Over the years scientists have elucidated many of the laws and principles that govern its behavior. Yet curiously, the more deeply they have delved into its true nature, the more they discover that physical reality is nothing like what we imagined it to be.

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