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The paralax of the scientific mind !!

August 6, 2010

Mohan, mdashf

The paralax of the scientific mind !!

The question that a scientific mind often experiences is one which is complexly intertwined with the way we understand the world around us.

To initiate an exposition with that in mind, we can look into how we grow our notions about the immediately connected world, eg the one that our previous generation passes to us, which they inherited by their own experience.

We learn about how to play a particular game/sports, how to speak, how to make sense and how to interact with one another.

That preparatory way to learn the basics of our living is a must for any kid in a moderately advanced society. That takes several years of a child’s life and modifies him to an educated child/adult.

Once he has reached that phase he truly learns to appreciate the further complicacies and complexities in the world that he lives in. The complicaies might reflect his primary mode of learning via a multitude of relationship methods he forms based on his own persona. The complexities might reflect the underlying truth of the Universe.

His secondary mode of learning are what we may ascribe to a universal education system, his school, his play ground, his freinds, the media, TV, internet, the new age mantras and tantras and so on.

[If you compare the phrase “moderately advanced” with the phrases, developing/developed or 3rd world, you will find a ray of hope because from my own experiences, I can immediately say India is a moderately advanced country, it has tremendous intellectual GDP despite of its lack of many resources or technology or social inequity caused by any or many of the factors ascribed to a developing country, In that sense, moderately advanced is a new scientific description or at-least a terminology]

Now that the child has metamorphosed to his adult phase he begins the phase of selection or choice. Here he wants, he has needs and based on which part of the globe he’s grown up in, he has a degree of awareness about his rights and responsibilties.

I think this is a time in his life when he starts delving into diversions of his choice. S/He develops feelings, intuition, ideas, friends, relations. He appreciates his own sense as well as anothers, associates with knowledge, goes after experiences, talks about mystries, enjoys the attraction of illusions, paradoxes do appeal to him.

But one thing is certainly missing from his persona. The quest for finding his ignorance, to self-mentor his doubts and not to misconstrue the uncertainties as mere globs of insignificance.

Among the myriad diversions his choiceful mind has thrown open for him, among the multitude of choice his freewill has led him to, an important diversion has only occured in a few of the minds.

Very rightfully these are the scientific minds, minds that question with an inquisitive bent of design, that sharpens with time. This is where doubts, ignorance and uncertainities enter his mind and fulfil his urge to transcend the traditions of knowledge.

If we sum up in Donald Rumsfelds words of known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns, science is a diversion in the direction of the unknown unknowns. Because these are the doubts, ignorance and uncertainities that propel the inquisitive mind.

This is a diversion and this is a paralax. This paralax signifies the many truthful side of the same object, the same truth. This is science and this is not possible with the known knowns only.

Science is not possible with merely the known unknwons, because sooner or later the mystries, paradoxes and illusions will be forgotten or solved one way (known) or another(unknwon).

But the likelihood that the unknown unknown gives is highest for scientifc exploration. In hind sight, there are two unknwons there.

In language that everyone is familiar with a ‘known known’ is like the “popular” gravity or the interesting phenomena of magnetism, we know they exist and we know they happen.

A known unknwon is like the mystry of the God or the alien that visited us in UFO or the signal that a remote civilization sends to us earthlings.

A unknown unknown is where most of our scientific muscle and credit line is invested: its about exploring the unknwon matter that pervades our universe, the “God” particle that gives value to masses or the strings at the smallest scale of our universe that may turn out to be a poof or as they say in my native “elephant’s fart”.


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  1. August 6, 2010

    It must be written for a scientist, not for me :(To me, it was juxtaposition of scattered thoughts that are good as it is, but not when put together. Topic title is paralax and not sure how much people (other than physics or optics major) will understand the concept, and relate to the writing. May be I have to wait till I become a scientist to understand what is written here :)Shorter version of this article will be more helpful for average person like me!!

  2. August 6, 2010

    consider it a cofee table gossip…except nobody has a clue because nobody said it like that….A big lesson for me in science is science is not effective if its not quite understandable….but thats not why we do science…just yesterday I was reading a piece of article by Weinberg [4 golden thoughts] and there he says “scientists are never going to be rich”, while the reverse is also true he argues therefore we must learn how to explore the ocean of scientific knowledge to be able to feel satisfaction in life. And who in present times is as accomplished a scientist as Weinberg? He has lived it…

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