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It seemed that we were closing in on a vision of our universe in which everything to be calculated, predicted, understood. However two theories eternal inflation and string theory now suggest that the same fundamental principles from which the laws of nature derive may lead to many different self consistent universes with many different properties.

paradox by definition is:

statement or situation that appear illogical or contradictory but that may reveal an underlying truth.

It seems to me that the sentence starting from "however" is perfectly a contradiction to the sentence before it. But according to my answer key, "speculation" is a better answer as to which rhetorical strategy the author uses.

Source (where I found it): My SAT Critical Reading Preparatory Book

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    Point of order: I expect it should be string theory not strain theory. – Avon Jul 2 '15 at 20:49
  • I don't think it's a paradox. It's just a narrative of the progress of understanding. – Avon Jul 2 '15 at 20:53
  • Instead of “to be” is it ‘could be”? – Jim Jul 2 '15 at 21:20
  • Whatever it is, it is poorly written, ungrammatical, badly punctuated, and lacks capitalisation. I would fix that before worrying about rhetorical strategies. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 2 '15 at 22:08
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    It's the usual consequence of applying the scientific method. A hypothesis (here, that the fundamental principles of the Universe demand and explain everything we can observe) is found to be totally or partially wrong (here, as a result of revising the analysis rather than the discovery of counterexamples). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 2 '15 at 22:24
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No paradox at all. The quote states that "it seemed that we were closing in on a vision of our universe", but that new theories, "eternal inflation and string theory", suggest that the laws of nature "may lead to many different self consistent universes with many different properties."

None of this is inconsistent with the idea that the properties of our universe are not "to be calculated, predicted understood.". Furthermore, it does not rule out the possibility that the properties of those other universes may also be "calculated, predicted understood". It only suggests that other universes may exist, and the properties of those other universes may be different from ours.

  • While that first block quote may not be paradoxical, reality certainly seems to be. ;- ) – user98990 Jul 2 '15 at 22:56
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Paradox is literally a seeming contradiction. (wordplays.com)

so, if it seems to you like a contradiction ...

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