Monday, 15 September 2014

Away To A Fabulous Land

By Luke Kristopher Davis

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. - Isaac Newton 

The Joy Of Science

   Humans are a small element in the subset of all the life on earth and this subset may even be still an even smaller element in the set of all life in the known universe. We are here by chance: there existed the chance for the basic atoms of matter to form complex compounds and for these to form even more complicated material structures which somehow formed the building blocks of DNA. The fact that over thousands of millions of years of evolution have produced a life form, us, which can decipher the patterns in the world and form an understanding of them is extraordinary. It is as if the universe is contemplating itself through our brains, how odd and mysterious this is! 

   To question and inquire the workings of the universe is an absolutely joyful experience. What grander quest exists than to understand the universe? To use the language of mathematics and the imagination of the human brain to describe events in the world is fun! The ingenuity of some species of organisms to deal with environmental selection pressures stretches the mind. The fact that we can describe a lot of what goes on in the universe with the basic equations and ideas of quantum mechanics is stifling! With a few elementary equations we gain a huge insight into the universe, this means that the universe that surrounds us and is us, is an elegantly and beautifully constructed system. 

   With science we can create technologies which allow us to talk to friends from all over the world, science enables us to travel around the world in the first place ! We can build monumental structures with the basic notions of mechanics, aerodynamics and metallurgy. We can conjure up bio-mechanical limbs which in some cases work better than our own evolved limbs! 

   What has separated us from the middle ages is science. Modern society is nothing without it. The only way we can make considerable progress in the advancement of knowledge, our happiness and health is with science. All other areas of study are dwarfed by sciences ability to thrust mankind into a new land of understanding.

   I cannot understand how doing anything else in ones life could be that exciting, mesmerizing or humbling than doing science or mathematics.

The Fabulous Land

   To train oneself, or if one is lucky enough to have a huge genetic disposition, to become aware of the patterns that live in the many layers of our world reveals the fabulous land. The fabulous land can be thought of as the mechanical cogs behind a majestic clock. Instead of only seeing the face of the clock and its decoration and so forth we must wonder what the clock is and how it works. We then open up the clock, without destroying it, with some clever tricks (mathematics) and we witness a whole new layer... the workings of the cogs. This analogy has its limits as it assumes the workings of the universe to be deterministic which at some layers it can be but at many layers of reality events occur in a probabilistic fashion. The point, I hope, is made clear.

  I think trying to tease out the patterns in our world assumes the validity of the claim that the whole natural world consists of layers of interacting patterns. This claim can never be shown to be absolutely true as it is a claim about the world, its validity depends entirely on the empirical success of the methods of inquiry which assume it. Through the success of science it is quite reasonable to assume that every event in the known universe is part of some pattern or other. With this assumption we are confidently able to look at new phenomena or mysteries in a completely scientific fashion.

  As one develops his/hers pattern recognition skills and knowledge of already existing patterns one discovers more of this fabulous land. It is easy to become lost in this land and to forget about the face of the clock (returning to the analogy). We must always try to bring what we find in the fabulous land back to normal reality and explain it in terms applicable to the everyday world in which we see and others see. Otherwise we lose the wonder and beauty that attracted us to the fabulous land in the first place, we also have an obligation to share what we find with the rest of humanity so that they benefit materially or intellectually from it. 

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