How much do I really appreciate what Science is !
A question I have asked in my mind and I have pondered for a while in answering, while writing this article.
I have always found this sort of out of the circle thinking a favorite pastime of mine. As far as I can recall, into my mind, I see this as a conscious effort, to process what I learn, in a more or less compulsive way, built into my thinking. And as much as I can imagine, I developed such a habit, as a very young student.
To this date, when I have had a pretty solid background in experimental science, through painstaking days and nights of thinking through methods and implementing them, to extract some good looking interesting plots, to being a pretty enthusiastic graduate student, slogging through bunches of home works, to understanding the basic concepts, I have carried a good deal of passion in thinking about, what I have learned and what I haven’t.
My thinking has matured considerably, giving rise to rejection of plain thoughts. In a way, I have formed a judgment of my own to discriminate or rather, to ask more and more questions, in trying to circumvent, pretty simple headed questions howsoever bothersome, as well.
This then to my mind, is, a good definition of science.
The ability to discern the value of a question, the ability to focus on the important facets and the preparedness to keep aside “plain thoughts”, if we see the same as a trivialization of sorts is what a good definition of science pertains to, in my earnest opinions.
The most fundamental thing, we as a bunch of scientists do, is, we ask ourselves numerous questions, some of value, some out of plain curiosity. And in forming, a regular quest, to seriously associate ourselves to such otherwise passionate tinkering of the brain, forms a solid foundation of science of any age. A question is not a loud out, one time burst, of acoustic power, a question is rather a lingering process of mind. And they come in, as complex, as any of our regular brain activities.
But, there is a natural limit to our way and ability to question, rather, there is a natural limit to extract meaningful answers out of questions we ask to ourselves.
- One example of a natural limit, to asking questions, to ourselves — and finding satisfying answers, is, a correlation to our knowledge base, individualistic as well as collective. How much do we really know, to be able to ask something, that will lead us to more knowledge.
- Another limit, is in our natural abilities, to continue to excavate and explore more and more of knowledge, without feeling slumped down and discouraged. It is therefore an action of keeping morale and energy, both, high, in the pursuit of knowledge.
- Yet another limit, is, a “value” of such fundamental quest, — which is often found complicatedly intertwined, with everything else, that we face in life,
- (a) importance of graduate student’s scientific abilities,
- (b) question of a job and joblessness,
- (c) question of a tenure,
- (d) question of acceptability,
- (e) question of priorities,
- (f) question of significance and so on.
This then gives rise to an “efficiency” at which we can ask meaningful questions, and this is closely related, to science itself, if one appreciates the fact that Science is a body of knowledge with a sustainable power channeling. When efficiency fails, the power channels get voided. This in turn leads us to require ourselves, to ask only those questions that conserve our efficiency.
Allowing validity of the above sound thinking is then quintessential, to a “successful” story of Science.
Science is an evolution, of our fundamental quest and queries, that almost constantly leads us, in ways of discovery or in the least of it, into a sustainability of our quest to explore.
How is then science related to nature? Why we have explored so much of the physical nature, of our Universe? Was it any easy sailing, exploring such aspects or we just happened to dig out that, which occurred to us?.
I am certainly not hinting towards an intellectual force or design, pulling us in one direction, so that human civilization will meet the fate its destiny maker has designed it to. The exploration of physical nature of universe is certainly related to, what the human community has amassed in its entire history and its easy to accumulate more in the lines of history.
Another aspect of the best standard of science, is, to formulate what we gain as knowledge in terms mathematical equations and numbers, at-least as far as the instances of Physical Sciences are raised.
Some concepts of Physics are pretty intuitive in nature and could have been done away, without much complex formulations. One idea would have sufficed to solve a gamut of physical problems. Is, the only reason behind having quantification of physical laws, was to be able to solve complex problems, by means of a computation system, so as to get more precise results and more efficient, time-saving answers?
A definite advantage of having quantified physical laws, is, to have an answer that’s unifyingly valid, in a wide spectrum of physical phenomena whereas intuitive reasoning wouldn’t be sufficient, to provide a manifest evidence of such physical laws.
There is yet another advantage, which is, the natural bridge between Science and Technology is impossible without a mathematical formulation of our knowledge.
How much is then Technology, a good precursor to effective science?
In the last one month, I have met a few very enthusiastic guys, who kept our discussions about Physics and Science very lively and interesting, sprout with challenging questions, about the issues any professional scientist is bound to answer.
I never had seen such an enthusiastic quest, from practitioners of science itself. These folks are far off, from a professional science curricula, having formed their interest and queries, just from what they know from their pre-university training, or perhaps from today’s media and social media.
Few of the discussions, ranged over the questions of Black-holes, Big-Bang and Large Hadron Colliders. But on one instance, one of them saw me, to a satisfactory exchange of ideas and questions. He posed a serious notion, of, how much Technology has boosted the contents of science.
While there is no second opinion, about the efficacy of Technology, in modern day science, I differed on a particular point. I stated, it is questionable, to be able to say, that, Technology alone has resulted in a fast paced development, of science, in a way inherent to Technology.
Because, science is a matter of intellectual interpretation and intellectual growth of knowledge with or without present day technology. The modern day Science counts its days, from the times of Galileo and the technology that Galileo enjoyed is much less powerful, than the technology of today.
But Galileo — and not anyone else, before that, had produced scientific treatises, discoveries and scientific insights, that not many can produce today, even with a “million-fold” increase, in Tech-power. Technical inventiveness, in a way, was inbuilt into his type of worldly genius and also, today’s technology may wrongly and unnecessarily interfere with the scientific thought process of such luminaries.
Perhaps the interference high technology and big science and big labs and big funding, pose towards technical and scientific inventiveness in individual scientists, is akin to the interference Churches played, into Galileo and other contemporary scientists.
Also the advantage that Galileo enjoyed in those days were, one of scientific communication. If one comes to think of it, scientific insights communicated at few MBs/sec, can get overshadowed, by the plethora of unscientific non-insights, communicated at 10 GB-Ethernet and such non-insights, may have a prime place, at a prime value in our times.
In other words information war, is not exclusive to cold war like regimes, it also plagues in a natural way, the efficacy of beautiful minds and beautiful communities. This is yet another level of interference.
Apart from the bridge, that science enjoys with technology, there is a very traditional partner science has got, to deal with; Education.
Education, its perceived value and its status at any given time.
With lack or surplus of knowledge, science creates for itself a need. Science is like a buffer, that takes care of the output and lack of output of knowledge. And “education” has an assigned priority to create knowledge. But when the basis of education are prepared, on faulty premises and promises, science doesn’t suffer exclusively. Through the buffer of an ill-prepared science, resulting from improper implementation of education, society suffers.
Like any social problem, that science can not promise to solve, faulty education is one, which doesn’t have a baby-sitter. Its much rather a social problem, than a scientific one.
And to envisage from my personal experience, there is a widely disjoint separation layer, between primary education and training in college, one between training at that level and what we effectively learn at University, one between that knowledge and professional level science and research, and one between the ideals of science and state of affairs in Laboratory and University based research.