Observe. The Duty of The Scientist. (SAM Series)

I wanna join the Science club. It is a mighty prestigious club I hear. So how do I join Science the club? How do I “do Science”?

So Science is beautiful. It has the beauty of open-mindedness. It is beautiful in other ways too …

Ok ok. Cut out the preamble. I wanna join the Science club. It is a mighty prestigious club I hear. How do I join the Science the club? How do I “do Science”?

You are so sweet. Asking such nice questions!

What was the question again: How do I “do Science”?

Here is the answer: Observe.
girl observing
That is what you have to do, to do Science. Observe.
Just simply, observe.

That’s it? Really? What about Physics and Math? And Biology? I like Biology. And Chemistry? Don’t I have to do Chemistry?

Hmm… they are nice sorts. Physics, Math and all that. You are hereby granted permission to make friends with those guys. They indeed are nice sorts. Very good company to keep.

But to do Science, you must observe. No getting around that one. Its a big plain in-the-face secret about Science. People don’t say it in school or at college. We are friends. Sharing secrets is our way of cozying up. So here we are, in our pyjamas, away from admonishing voices asking us to go to sleep, we whisper in each others’ ears: To do Science, you must observe.

What about problem solving? Analysis? Strategic thinking? Deductions? Don’t I have to do any of those? And think? Don’t I have to “think”? That guy Descartes, he said “I think therefore I am”. That means if I do not think, I am not? If I don’t think, I won’t exist? That’s scary! I must analyze. I must think! Else, I won’t even exist! Forget about doing Science. I wanna exist. I must think!

Easy does it. Let’s not get pulled away by our own pant straps.

There was this other guy too. He was called Krishna. He said, “कर्म कर, फल की चिन्ता मत कर”.
Ya, that sounds greek. Not to worry. English translations are available.
Translation: Do your duty. Don’t worry about the results.
Book reference: Bhagavata Geeta.

Duty of the scientist: observe.
Results: problem statements, solutions, strategies, deductions …
One duty, so many results. How cool is that! But do not worry about the results. Don’t gun for the results directly. Observe.

If we gun for the results directly (as often people do), if we explicitly try to analyze, try to solve, chances are we will get all entangled in with our own two left feet, dancing a never-ending dance drama. That is not exactly the Science dance idea. Gunning for analysis, gunning for solving, chances are we will miss the target altogether! It will seem like we are doing something, but the actual solution will be sitting elsewhere, happily tapping its fingers on the table. Why? Because the thought in our mind was, “I must solve/analyze”, rather than, “I must observe”.

When we observe, the problem states itself (half the problem solved!), the solution emerges (yay!), the analysis self-happens (and you will get to strut and feel, I am a smart dude!), the deductions deduce. Plop! You shall find them all in your palms. Like mangoes. And then you can place the mango in front of the world: Here. This is the result I got. Tan-ta-dang!

(Btw, go ahead – eat some of the mango yourself. Mangoes are tasty.)

This is the way I see it. Krishna did not say this, so we’ll keep that dear innocent guy out of this. With me, you are welcome to disagree. (Btw, with Krishna too, you are welcome to disagree.)

We spoke about replicating results, right? What if there are no results? What do you replicate? You are the only scientist here. Everyone else has lost it. The world is looking up to you. She shall produce “results”! How do you get results? Bang. From scratch.
Observe.

This is what I have to say. To do Science: observe.

That’s it. Its really simple. Anyone can do it. You, I, anyone. We can all be cool dudes.


boy observing

Image credits:
Mama Smiles. Reliving Childhood.
Kids Gardening
Getty Images

Open-mindedness. The Beauty of Science. (SAM Series)

Very good question: What’s so great about Science?

Now frankly, “great” I don’t know – but there is this basic tenet of Science, and what emerges from that, is something beautiful.

तेरा हाथ पकड़ चलना है, ओ मेरे रखवारे
पथ आलोकित करते चलना, सत्‌ करुणा उर वारे


Here we are. Gathered around. Welcome to us. Welcome my friend, to the first post in the SAM series.

What did we say we shall talk about? Yes, Science.

What’s so great about Science? Why talk about it? Why not talk about what I am wearing right now? That is a nice idea isn’t it?

Maybe. But we said we will talk about Science, so we will.
(don’t whisper: “She’s already getting heavy handed”. I can hear you.)

And yes, very good question: What’s so great about Science?

Frankly, “great” I don’t know – but there is this basic tenet of Science, and what emerges from it, is something rather beautiful.

The need for replication of results

“The need for replication of results.” That is a basic tenet of Science.

Someone more authoritative might say: “the demand for reproducibility”.
That sounds a bit intimidating.
I propose we take a softer, gentler approach. Softer, gentler approach is good marketing strategy.

The need for replication of results means: If I can see what you say there is, if I can get the same results, I shall accept what you say. Otherwise, no, very sorry, with all due respect, I cannot accept what you say.

Now really, there isn’t such a big deal to this. Its plain common sense. This is the basis on which we all operate. Don’t we? Yes.

Actually, half-yes. This is the way we operate, but we want the other person to operate differently. We want him to simply accept what we say. At least kids better accept what we say! 🙂

Let’s expand this need for replication of results a bit further, to see how we can follow it. If we wish to.

1. I shall not believe you, unless I myself experience what you say. However, I shall give you a due ear. I shall try to replicate your results. If I am fully sure that I met all the conditions you laid down for the results, and I still do not experience what you say, I shall reject your claim.

2. If I do experience what you say, I shall accept that what I knew earlier was not fully correct. Instead of feeling bad about “being wrong”, I shall only feel gratitude that now I can see more.

Now can you smell something beautiful and fragrant? It is the beauty of open-mindedness. It is how we go forward together. Hand in hand.

Both these above tenets are worthy of being lived by, by every individual.

The Beauty of Open-mindedness.
The Beauty of Open-mindedness.

Implications

There are many fall-outs that fall out from these two tenets. Here are some.

  • It is good to ask a question.
  • Its ok to disagree.
  • Discussion is a good idea.
  • Believing blindly without checking out yourself, not such a good idea.
  • Scoffing at an idea, person, thing prematurely – not a good idea.
  • There is no need to “defend” your theory or stand.
  • The need for clarity of articulation.
  • The need to listen.
  • The awareness that I may be wrong.
  • Being wrong does not make a person stupid.

Science is a way of dancing. You know, like Bharatanatyam, Zumba and stuff. If you like Science, if you are afflicted by a teenage crush on it, then it is good to repeatedly check that you are on this track of these tenets. That you are dancing the Science dance.

Are we dancing the Science dance? Are we following these tenets? Or are we choosing to believe science blindly?


Image courtesy: Holiday Philippines Blog

new series: Science And Me (SAM)

Friends, I’ve decided to start a series on this blog called “Science And Me” (SAM in short).

Why?

Friends, I’ve decided to start a series on this blog called “Science And Me” (SAM in short).

science_labwork

Why?

Thing is, there are tons and tons of thoughts going round and round in my head. Oops!
Regarding Science. Oops oops!
Since years. High-school to be precise.

When tons and tons of thoughts go round in the head, the head gets heavy. When the head gets too heavy, then the chest gets heavy … 🙂

So, my attempt will be to take one single thought-sliver out of my head and place it on the table. Post by post. Like so –

brain_writing
Howz that for a diagram?

I think something constructive will come out of doing that.
1. It will clear my head and make it lighter (whew!)
2. Maybe there will be something more. For me. And for you too.

And who knows? We might find that there aren’t even tons and tons (of thoughts). Just a handful. I might find that it is their going round and round that made them feel “weighty” (and wise) 😉

So now this is not a post in that new series. There is nothing scientific about this one. (Except for the diagram).

Watch out next week for the first post.

Love you.


Chemistry girl image courtesy: Phillip Martin Clip Art