The beauty of Science
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
04-09-2011, 11:33 AM
 
The beauty of Science
It would be nice to hear from members about the pleasure they received from their learning experiences.

We all had the famous "AHA" moments when you feel as if a light bulb lit up over your head and you understood something fascinating.

It does not have to be Physics or even Science, any triumph in understanding will do.

I am a Physicist, so I have to start with that -- that is where the thread's title comes from (too late to broaden it now).

.......................

Physics often humbles me -- I cannot help but feel awed by the beautiful rationality of what I see.

Where do these “Laws of Nature” come from?

Why does inanimate matter follow them with unerring precision ? Why does matter behave as if it ‘wanted’ to follow the rules?

Look at an ice skater, for example.

She starts a pirouette by giving herself a small spin on the ice, with her arms stretched out. Once she has a low-speed rotation, she gradually pulls her arms in, lifting them slowly to a vertical position, until her arms are as close to the axis of rotation as possible. Observe how her spin speeds up as she does that. Her body, without any further effort on her part, obeys the law: “your angular momentum shall remain the same” - the law of conservation of momentum must be obeyed. Just imagine, how a little girl must feel when she first learns this neat trick: without any effort, just by raising her arms, a sudden force grabs her and starts spinning her body in a dizzying pirouette!

Physics gives us a lot more than formulas, rules of clear thinking and methods for discovering truth. Physics is breath-taking in its scope and depth.

Let me tell you what physics means to me: It is a door to a universe full of secrets and miracles and mystery. It is Alice's Wonderland, where everything is different from what you expect. Space and time is one and curved; simultaneity is an illusion; forever can last a second, and a minute may last forever. Cause and effect may change roles and, if you didn't pay attention to the sound of the falling tree, you may have made it 'never happened'.

Physics is a window to look at the birth (and death) of the universe; it allows you to read messages from billions of years in the past, before the atoms making up the planet you stand on were created. Physics is the rapidly increasing heaviness that paralyses your body as you approach the speed of light so you can move only as in a dream - but only to the observers you are speeding away from, while you think you are going around in your normal way.

It is a world where matter can be created from nothing but energy and then turned back into radiating emptiness again; where particles can annihilate each other, winking out as they collide; where either of 'twin' particles, moving in opposite directions at the speed of light, still knows and reacts to what happens to the other; and where the entire universe may be nothing more than fluctuating vacuum, delineated by the Big Bang and the Big Crunch.

How can anything compete with miracles of this kind?

Certainly, not religion.
Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Zatamon's post
04-09-2011, 04:54 PM
RE: The beauty of Science
To me the beauty of Science is that it is always tenuous. Always ready to change on a moment's notice in light of new evidence. It never commits completely to any interpretation. Everything is just a current best guess subject to change. And it's self-correcting. That's what differentiates Science from Religion.

Just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean there aren't people who should pray for their sorry ass to be saved.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes GirlyMan's post
04-09-2011, 05:18 PM
 
RE: The beauty of Science
(04-09-2011 04:54 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  To me the beauty of Science is that it is always tenuous. Always ready to change on a moment's notice in light of new evidence. It never commits completely to any interpretation. Everything is just a current best guess subject to change. And it's self-correcting. That's what differentiates Science from Religion.

Beautifully said, GirlyMan -- you know exactly what science is about (and religion isn't)!
Quote this message in a reply
04-09-2011, 07:36 PM
RE: The beauty of Science
The beauty of science to me is when I see how different fields of science overlap together to form one giant picture. Take for example, the energy levels in an atom. Such a concept can be applied to for example, Biology, in the light harvesting stage of photosynthesis where pigments transfer energy by either resonance energy transfer or the passing of the excited electron. Maybe Chemistry, in transition elements, where a certain frequency of the visible spectrum of light is absorbed by the transition elements, and the colour of the compound is the complementary colour of the wavelength absorbed.

Take a look around you, in a city or in a village. The beauty of nature, the orderly structures of the Earth, all seems so complex, until you realise such complexity do not require a designer. I see the world as a jigsaw puzzle, with it's mysteries and all, and science a tool to solve the puzzle.

Taking a Biologist viewpoint (not one yet, maybe in 7-8 years?), look at a simple leaf. Green, plant organ, nothing more you say? But take a look deep into it, and a whole new world awaits you. A simple leaf, contains thousands and thousands of plant cells, each with a unique structure compared to an animal cell, with cell walls, giant central vacuole, and chloroplasts! Look into a chloroplast, pigments harvesting light to start the photosystems, producing products that is used in another process (The Calvin Cycle), that produces precursors for nutrients. A self-sustaining life-form, harvesting its energy through light, that's a plant for you. Looking at a macro-viewpoint, we see how evolution accelerates, creating more and more new species as more and more speciation events happen. Referring to this link posted by free2011 http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/63215, we can see how the many different flora and fauna started appearing just very recently, in relative to the entire timeline of Earth. The prokaryotes and the early eukaryotic cells are the precursors to our existence. And no, they aren't placed there by some God. Although bizzare, the right conditions, with the right proportion of chemicals, allow the formation of basic amino acids and nucleotides, which further aggregate into polypeptides and nucleic acids. And no, God didn't create the right conditions for Earth to have life. We are just lucky. Consider how small we are in this vast, ever-expanding universe.

Each field of science paints a different picture, and within each field, different areas paint different pictures too. But at the end of the day, all these pictures come together, to form a giant picture, the universe, the world we have today.

Science is beautiful indeed.
(I just thought of something. Could the reason religion attracts so many people despite how illogical it is because it appeals to the emotions of a person, by making him or her feel saved and safe with Big Daddy protecting everyone?)

Welcome to science. You're gonna like it here - Phil Plait

Have you ever tried taking a comfort blanket away from a small child? - DLJ
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
05-09-2011, 08:24 AM
 
RE: The beauty of Science
(04-09-2011 07:36 PM)robotworld Wrote:  Science is beautiful indeed.

Science is a wonderful tool.

We get home from a busy day at the office, or in the shop, and flick the light switch on as we enter our home, instantly turning night to day. Yet most of us, most of the time, don’t think about what a miracle this is.

With that casual flick of our fingertip, we set into motion a very long chain of causes and effects, covering an entire continent, maintained by thousands of people who make sure every single component is where it’s supposed to be. Should a connection be severed anywhere in that grid, our light may not have turned on. Then we would have found our way (in the dark) to the telephone (another miracle) to report an outage.

Even those of us who are aware of these things almost never think of the very, very few people whose curiosity, thirst for knowledge, fascination with, and awe of, Nature compelled them to tinker, experiment, try to figure out how the world is put together.

When we turn on the light, we don’t think of Faraday, 180 years ago, wondering about Oersted’s experiment showing how an electric current effected a magnetic needle. He wanted to know if the reverse was also true: did magnets have anything to do with electric currents? So Faraday twisted a piece of electric wire into a loop, connecting the two ends through an instrument that detects the flow of electric current.

That was the whole experimental setup that lead to the light switch and made all our conveniences possible: power tools, the MRI, television, the microwave oven, the VCR. Everything that uses electricity became possible at the moment when Faraday picked up a bar magnet and waved it over the loop of wire… and the needle of the galvanometer moved.
Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Zatamon's post
09-09-2011, 07:30 PM
RE: The beauty of Science
(05-09-2011 08:24 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(04-09-2011 07:36 PM)robotworld Wrote:  Science is beautiful indeed.

Science is a wonderful tool.

We get home from a busy day at the office, or in the shop, and flick the light switch on as we enter our home, instantly turning night to day. Yet most of us, most of the time, don’t think about what a miracle this is.

With that casual flick of our fingertip, we set into motion a very long chain of causes and effects, covering an entire continent, maintained by thousands of people who make sure every single component is where it’s supposed to be. Should a connection be severed anywhere in that grid, our light may not have turned on. Then we would have found our way (in the dark) to the telephone (another miracle) to report an outage.

Even those of us who are aware of these things almost never think of the very, very few people whose curiosity, thirst for knowledge, fascination with, and awe of, Nature compelled them to tinker, experiment, try to figure out how the world is put together.

When we turn on the light, we don’t think of Faraday, 180 years ago, wondering about Oersted’s experiment showing how an electric current effected a magnetic needle. He wanted to know if the reverse was also true: did magnets have anything to do with electric currents? So Faraday twisted a piece of electric wire into a loop, connecting the two ends through an instrument that detects the flow of electric current.

That was the whole experimental setup that lead to the light switch and made all our conveniences possible: power tools, the MRI, television, the microwave oven, the VCR. Everything that uses electricity became possible at the moment when Faraday picked up a bar magnet and waved it over the loop of wire… and the needle of the galvanometer moved.

You have a beautiful way of putting it Zatamon, thanks for reminding me how I take a lot of these things for granted.....food for thought. Big Grin

Physics wise have you been keeping an eye on the Large Hadron Collider in CERN???

I used to (try) to keep up to date with there findings, although sometimes I dont fully understand the complexity of some of the stuff I read......however after its numerous breakdowns and fires etc etc Ive stopped following it.

I have heard though that they have allready ruled out some explanations on why the universe operates the way it does......there narrowing it down.

I just hope that if they do discover something then they use it for good......not rip a hole in space/time ha ha.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
09-09-2011, 08:08 PM
 
RE: The beauty of Science
(09-09-2011 07:30 PM)bemore Wrote:  You have a beautiful way of putting it Zatamon, thanks for reminding me how I take a lot of these things for granted.....food for thought. Big Grin

Thank you, bemore.

I know that science is a lot more than just Physics, but Physics is my love and I can't help being 'poetic' about it.

Here is another way I tried to explain what Physics means to me:

Imagine, if you will, that you are in an airplane, flying over the landscape of Physics and technology. Below you is a few dozen workbenches scattered around the landscape with curious little figures bending over them, muttering to themselves, while moving objects around: wires, beakers, jars, strange objects and instruments. No more than a dozen or two.

Behind them, at a respectful distance, there is an army of technicians and engineers waiting patiently. Every now and then something new happens on one of the front benches and a golden nugget falls to the ground and rolls over to the army who will instantly swarm over it, picking it up, turning it this way and that, prodding, poking, molding it in newer and newer shapes that are familiar to us today: light bulbs, telephones, electric motors, power tools, radio, TV, VCR, DVD, Microwave, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, dentist drills, MRI, movie theatres, food processors, computers, Internet connections, street cars, airplanes
and on and on and on.

Try to imagine a world without electricity!

As recently as 130 years ago!

None of the things I listed above was available, most of it did not exist even in science fiction novels of the time. People used candles, lanterns, coal and wood fire, horses and buggies, backbreaking work even for simple tasks like plowing a field or lifting heavy objects.

And all that changed due to the less than 2 dozen strange characters bending over their workbenches, muttering to themselves. Today we call them scientists and there are thousands of them. But, at the beginning there were only a few and they made the fundamental discoveries, making the rest possible.
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: