SCIENCE – The Key That Unlocks World’s Biggest Enigmas
When we think about science, we immediately consider experiments, laboratories tests, and logical explanations.
This is what a scientist looks like.
Science is always searching for new information and answers about what goes on in the natural world. Scientists try to test those statements to prove that or the contrary of that. It was Carl Sagan, the American scientist that delivered one of the best definitions for it: “Science is an attempt, largely successful, to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course”. Medicine, physics, math, chemistry, biology, you name it! All these disciplines are here to help us understand best the world we live in.
It’s in our nature to wonder and to try to get answers about things we don’t understand, we’re always hungry for new experience and that’s exactly the main core of it: “Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science” wisely stated Ralph Waldo Emerson. Research, don’t just believe it, that’s the motto!
One man and one unanswered question – the exact combination needed that follows the path of a new invention, a new discovery, something that saved or changed millions of lives. That’s how we got new amazing gear to ease our lives, the use of electricity, new treatments for ill people or new gadgets to help us find new things about the universe, and the world we live in.
Thank you for making our lives so much better!
I will just go ahead and mention some great science people that “rocked” our world:
- Albert Einstein who developed the theory of general relativity and quantum mechanic.
- Alan Turing invented the world’s the first computer (thank you very very much!)
- Charles Darwin stated the theory of evolution and how we descend from natural common ancestors, Aristotle was the first human ever to study logic.
- Galileo Galilei affirmed the theory that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe
- Isaac Newton who discovered gravity.
Those were all simple things that needed to be explained in a way we all could understand eventually. Albert Einstein said that “Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone”.
Science is awesome and simple, but after we see the obvious being explained we actually understand it.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
And Yet…It Moves.
Back in the old days, scientists used to work alone in not-so-sophisticated locations or workrooms. They would discover things by accident while experimenting, usually being alone, no other partners involved, focusing on what they had to do. Once the theory would prove right, there was no time for celebration. They’d have to write everything down in their science journals or draw sophisticated schemes. Most of these works were never actually published.
Scientists weren’t believed, they were called crazy and their works were always banned, burn or tossed away. Some of them were actually sentenced to prison for life or to death because the leaders thought that their inventions would confuse human nature.
Nowadays, things are way different, the science industry has come a long way. Science men have access to a new deep scientific knowledge, powerful analysis techniques, advanced equipment and supercomputers and the help of the mighty Internet and technology devices to distribute the new information fast. And no one is sent to prison in the name of science anymore.
Immanuel Kant once said that “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life”. So, the more we know, the better.
Modern Science vs Ancient Science
During the old times, our ancestors had to use their brains much more in order to think outside the box so that they could gather new facts to explain something. Because back then they didn’t have enough information, it was limited, they didn’t have help from others or from modern gadgets like we have today. They were on their own.
In time, people gained more information to work with, they developed new ideas of improved the existing theories to prove more or to help people understand better.
As the experimental data improved, the questions that needed an answer developed as well to a more complex and elaborate hypothesis, so science actually specialized more, having an actual background to rely on.
Take for an example the great Charles Darwin. He studied everything, without boundaries, from geology to human emotions, to botany and soil ecology. Today, a modern scientist concentrates more and longer on a single topic, managing to be more specific on something. Not because the interest reached a lower level, but because with modern technology our knowledge expanded, demanding more time and more effort. In other words, they can afford to dig deeper on certain topics. Which is good, because there is always room for never-heard-before theories.
“Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain,” said American SF author Ray Bradbury.
This is what science labs look like today.
Science went wrong.
In the 60’s scientists firmly believed that by 2000s, humankind would travel through tunnels using teleportation or flying cars. Well, they got that wrong. We don’t have flying cars and we can’t teleport… yet!
Seeing that they weren’t that good about predicting the future, let’s get back and focus on what they did best for a living – experiments and demonstrations. Nobody’s perfect, right? Even scientists can go wrong with their work. It happens!
Researching for my post, I found that history carries some test that ended badly. And giving that, most of the history’s greatest discoveries were caused by accident or because something went bad.
Here are some of them:
– Penicillin: Alexander Fleming was studying bacteria in a messy laboratory, with random fungus and microorganisms growing everywhere. When he got back from holiday to his laboratory after a month he found something that would revolutionize medicine forever. He saw that a culture of Staphylococcus was contaminated and damaged with a mold-juice – a juice that would later be called Penicillium, the 20th century’s most vital antibiotic.
– Vanguard Rocket Project: this happened in 1957 and it was an experiment that was meant to send the first artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit, but it failed and some people actually died. The rocket launched successfully but only for two seconds before crashing. It was almost completely destroyed and the landing pad was severely damaged. Experiments like this helped NASA understand how can they send other expensive satellites without failing.
– Biosphere 2: – in 1991, 5 scientists built a big facility where they would move to live in, growing their own crops and plants to test if they can live on the air, water, and food provided just by those plants. The experiment failed, mostly because of “hunger” and because one injured participant left the facility for a little while only to return with a bag of what people believed were supplies.
– The Stanford Prison Experiment: 22 male students were hired for a week to participate in a psychological exercise. 11 were assigned to the role of prisoners, while the other half as guards who could run the prison anyway they wanted without rules at all to follow. The first day lacked incidents and the experiment was almost called off. The next day things changed: the prisoners tried to revolt causing the guards to change their position. They began torturing the prisoners making abuse of their “power”. During this test, many prisoners actually had mental breakdowns and ultimately, it led to the end of the test, for the prisoner’s safety. The purpose of this whole test was to demonstrate that power influences people’s actions and attitude.
Even when something goes wrong, we still learn something. We always have something to learn from our mistakes and science just proved it. And sometimes, we have important things to learn from failure and the first one is how to not fail again.
Now, I know science and experiments sound so much fun, but don’t try dangerous things at home. We’ve seen failed videos on the internet and some of them looked painful and weren’t that fun. Let the experimented adults do it.