October 31, 2010
We get to hear a lot about science. And most of it evokes a sense of inspiration in us. What’s happening around the world and how it all influences us is not something quite in my mind right now. So I desisted from preparing the readers of this article towards that in my mind.
Instead I might just say a few things. We have discovered recently a planet along with its star parent, which may have a clue towards origin of life itself; if it sustains life then we have more to learn about how life came up or even to learn exactly how contingency of life is contingent upon us. It’s a second order contingency, but never mind.
And if it does not we still have to learn, that while the conditions of life creation are satisfied how appropriately the conditions are not sufficient to trigger the life processes. In any case its great that we have such a discovery.
If one can keep his mind off from the inundates of a news and social website like twitter where one pours in such popular matters as notions of democracy, what should be peoples liberty and so on, one can readily come across the constant sources of new and awe inspiring discoveries and inventions every now and then.
One such is how a single atom has been isolated and trapped and the recent Nobel news of a material called Graphene. When I say we live in scientific times this is what I mean. We live in times where scientific strides are made persistently and they have tremendous consequences for our otherwise dull lives, which are made duller by a lack of perspective towards such a scientific time in which we live. But this is just another piece of social milieu the scientists and their scientific conscience endures.
Why is science whose fruits are numerous to even mention in a 3-page article in such a bad shape. I don’t have a straight answer. By straight I mean one, which is quite acceptable as a social norm. But we live in times when not accepting norms is in itself a norm. So I don’t quite have a suffocation here to tell you what I think honestly about why science is in a bad shape. But I don’t have an answer, which I can call myself quite an answer. Here is the attempt to tell you what constitutes as a reason for the dismal shape of science.
But before that since I said science is in a dismal shape why did I say that. Well let’s see, we have tremendous amount of knowledge just waiting to explode every instant to give rise to newer forms of understanding. But we do not readily accept the importance of such phenomena and we don’t quite take note of such attitude prevailing in our communities.
We don’t seem to take shedding light on such trends of science and its interconnection to our existential progress a brilliant case of science itself. When we do, we don’t act upon such with any urgency. Its not today that I am coming up or I can come up with such an article. Albert Einstein did and Richard Feynman did and they did in various forms in their times. Niels Bohr did and Heisenberg did and they were no less than Einstein or Feynman in their attempts. It may have existed much before Albert Einstein himself, that such a need to envision the state of science was recognized and promoted by great scientists. Lets put that a little shamelessly on the historians of science to find exactly when it was trending. But great scientists often recognized such a need.
Have we learned anything from such a vision? Is there anything in the training of a scientist, which prepares the scientists to take note of trends in the world of science, which is taken quite seriously? I mean we do that; it all exists in some or other forms. But is it taken as seriously as say a regular course of science. I think it’s a malice of science. And this needs to be forgone if we were to present science and its implications to the world in its clearest and socially understandable forms.
If science and its achievements for the world we live in are sidelined as issues of unnecessary significance we have created for ourselves a demon, (it rhymes with lemon) which feeds, on our vulnerabilities, makes us week and insignificant like a worm makes us die in pain.
Ok, now that I have said that, what is so dismal about science, I can actually come up with a few more. Lets think one, the creation of and the unwillingness to remove some of the useless traditions that’s prevalent in our so-called free thinking times. You can remind me that we never were any freethinking necessarily than the last generation and therefore we don’t necessarily give up on a tradition that’s prevalent since that generation and before. But I think this thinking is in itself another practice, which is a reason for dismal shape of science.
We and factually only a few of us always come up with brilliant ideas about how to make the traditions and the practices of science a little more modern, but nobody seems to have ever cared. One of the reasons one may put forth is to say science truly thrives on traditional practices more than newly inherited ideas. Tissue cultures anybody? Well its very true.
We have practices from as old as civilization itself that are still carrying to this day. At least in India I have observed sometimes with a great deal of scientific or may be explorative interests. I can not mention it all, but our traditions and practices do carry us into times of present day and this is also visible in the way we do science in India, at least. So we are not really any less scientific in our perspectives towards understanding or doing it. Also if the Indians did not imbibe the culture and practices of modern day science in their exact forms its because industrialization which bears onto itself so many fruits of science is a racially and radically patronized realm of affairs even inside India itself.
Not only as a nation but also as a sizable chunk of humanity we have been categorically denied the fruits of industrialization. But science in itself as its envisioned by its great creators such as Galileo (even before times of industrialization, which is the axis of argument here) didn’t meant it to be laid like this for the generations which he saw as his predecessors.
So while science in itself is ideal, its buyers such as industry and corporate structures do not quite let the benefits go to other nations exclusively for reasons of ideals. Science does not sale its benefits to industry, you may argue and therefore when industry operates on different principles than ideals industries do not feel quite indebted to science to let the benefits be transferred without any profit.
But my argument is such a profit is fiercely controlled in the premises of advanced countries, which in itself do not necessarily produce the total scientific inputs of the world. So as the ideals of science and its visionaries of present times see it, such an invisible practice is purposeful in many counts and in itself a great barrier towards internationalization of science.
One readymade example is how the books of world-class publications, which are a great source for scientific training at a younger age, are sold in moderately developed countries such as India and its neighbors who I have no idea about how moderate they are in their developments.
Now these books are greatly reduced in their price but so also their quality from their original production. These books do not get edited for longer times; do not get the latest additions such as a review material and so on. So while the ideals of science are met in some way, the practices are greatly quarter hearted. This is a dismal shape of science and its ideals.
How do you produce a genius of science in another country, which is abysmal in its education and scientific training? And those enlightened souls who do not right away see the benefit of having a genius in another country a good reason for the advance countries to invest their resources and hard dollars are not learned enough to see how its an exodus of great scientists from many different parts of the world that are the reasons of great progress in science in the United States. What if these countries from where the great scientists and their likes immigrated were trained in abysmal and dilapidated states of affairs in their parent countries?
I think when we discuss issues of agriculture and business in the world trade meetings, such an issue, which cripples science, can be brought for consideration. I think therefore this fact, that science and its existential problems are not known in the quarters which can make these problems dealt with effectiveness is not very well known. This is another reason why science is not in pretty good shape. If you are taking note of any important points in this article please take a note of this one.
So now that I have discussed many seemingly independent issues of the reasons of bad affairs of science I think this is just a nutmeg. When I am enlightened I may come up with many more.