I love science but I am not a scientist. I’m not one of those cliché guys/gals that just says they like science because nerds and geeks are the “in” thing. I was well into it before that. I will say that I do like that movement and hope it lasts. The reason, for me, runs very deep. I will explain.
Science is not some mystical subject. It’s not some unobtainable understanding for the layman. It isn’t for the elite few with lots of money, luck or both. Science, unlike Justice, is not blind. It is, or can be, all seeing and best of all it is one simple word: understanding. You see you don’t have to have degrees and PhDs to get it. It’s true that science and it’s inner workings require a lot of discipline to know and understand but fundamentally it does not. I’ll explain.
As I said, it’s about understanding. Here’s an example:
How does the Sun work? If you’re not sure that’s ok. If you’re an astrophysicist then I should hope you’d know. The thing is, it’s simple to explain how it works. That is, you can tell the average citizen how it works and you’ll see the light bulb go off in their head. Pun.
I won’t leave you hanging so here’s a rough explanation:
So the Sun works on a basic principle; nuclear fusion. It’s some 75% hydrogen, 24% helium and 1% other stuff. The intense (26,000,000F) heat and pressure are perfect conditions for hydrogen atoms to fuse into a heavier helium atom. To simplify this a little, imagine that hydrogen weighs 1 and you add another 1 to it. You might expect the helium to come out as weighing 2 but it doesn’t. It weighs a little less. So what happened? That mass it lost was converted into energy. That energy is the heat and light we feel and see everyday. The fusion process is in harmonious balance with the gravitational forces that would otherwise cause the Sun to collapse in on itself.
See? It’s pretty a pretty simple concept. Yes, it’s way way more complex on a deeper level but that’s plenty easy for anyone to understand.
The thing is, people have to be willing to learn this stuff. Some people are extremely narrow in their views and some view science as irrelevant. That is a dangerous position to take. Why? Our world is more and more dependent on technology. We cannot let the advancement of science and technology take a back seat to primitive tendencies that humans have an amazing knack for.
Ok, so the real why. I’m at that point you see. It’s not about “I know this and you don’t so neener neener!” No, absolutely not. If anyone boasts on their intellectual superiority then they’re no better than the very people that I loathe. Science gives you a broad view on the world. It gives you a broad view on every single thing in the Universe. You don’t look at a person and think “they are different/inferior to me…” you think “they are different and that’s fascinating…” With the idea and concept of science, your view becomes unbiased.
You suddenly realize that you’re comprised of particles; that make up atoms; that make up molecules; that make up organic compounds; that form cells; that form our bodies to start living in a town; in a county; in a state; in a country; on a continent; on a planet; in a solar system; in a galaxy; in a galactic cluster; in a super cluster in the Universe. While we’re each unique, we’re also so very, very tiny. I mean VERY tiny. It’s humbling and it opens ones eyes to the reality of the world beyond literal imagination. It’s so big and vast that one might argue “Why bother anyway?” The answer is “Why not?” If we stop now, then the human race is done for. If we want to progress as a species (yes, that’s right, people from ALL walks of life) then we must progress towards a grander understanding.
The Elusive Utopian Dream
I know, it’s a fools dream. I tend to believe that most people are good at heart and maybe they do stupid things under pressure of a small number not so good people. Even the people that aren’t so good would probably benefit from just a basic understanding of why “knowing” is important. That’s what science is; to know. It’s the understanding of the natural world of which we are all a part of. There’s no escaping it. If you’re reading this, you’re a part of something really big, even if you’re just a tiny piece of the puzzle.
It’s our duty as human beings to try and be kinder to each other and for that matter the Earth upon which we live. It can be scary to stray from old and comfortable ideas but we’re all in this together whether we like it or not. Degrading someone because they’re different does not advance our species in any way imaginable. The same goes for putting yourself on a pedestal above others.
Where Do We Go From Here?
All of this was spurred on by reading comments/tweets on the web regarding young children that were either of a certain ethnicity or had a disorder. The most vile stuff spewed forth from the fingertips of these people. Stuff that, if they had to say in person, they’d never be able to do. The ‘man behind the curtain’ effect gives people an increased audacity. Don’t even GET me started on cyber bullying. I’ll stop there for now. This was just a big late night rant but I firmly stand behind this reasoning. I don’t ‘believe’ or ‘think’ that an understanding of the natural world would be enlightening to our species; I know it would be.
As always, keep looking up.