A Few Thoughts on Why We Need to Know
Why do we need to know?
It comes down to this,when we know we’re safer. At least we feel safer. We’re more confident in what we do, more capable. When we know we’re more able to handle things, to know what to do and how to adjust to anything unexpected.
Knowing and the confidence it brings makes us safer. Or at least to feel safer.
You get right down to it science is a way to learn. It is a technique for learning. There are sciences, but they are not science.
Science is not a matter of what is, it is a matter of how you learn what is. It is very much a matter of how you learn and how you approach what you learn. And the first thing you need to learn is that you are wrong.
In a word we are imperfect. Even worse, we can’t ever be perfect. Our world is imperfect, the books we have to use is imperfect. For one thing, we just don’t have the capacity to know and understand everything. For this reason we can never know everything.
Once thing we can do is to correct out mistakes when we become aware of them, and the first step in that is to accept that we have erred. An ECG taken at 8:45 am a week ago is not an accurate picture of the heart’s condition at the present time. At best it could be an indication of the current condition. At worst it could be a damn lie. Sometimes you need to drive the car for about 15 minutes before the engine conks out.
Science is a way to learn. Science first of all involves being able to accept that you are wrong, and that what you do know is based on assumptions. Assumptions on how things work and on why they’re supposed to work.
Science is about alternative explanations. Explanations that could be right. Explanations that could be wrong. Explanations that could be wrong and still be a lead to what is right.
In the time of Aristotle gravity was understood to be a matter of an object’s nature. That being to fall to the ground when things were right.
This thinking came in large part from Ancient Greek animism, the belief that everything has a spirit. Spirits have a nature, and apparently part of that nature is to fall down when given the opportunity.
With Newton out understanding had improved to some extent. Newton for example did not accept the idea that things had a spirit that had a nature. To his way of thinking there had to be a force that made things fall to the ground when nothing stopped them from doing so.
A force with a mechanism all it’s own, and as our knowledge of our world grew we came to see how we thought the mechanism worked.
We discovered atoms, then later sub-atomic particles. Some of these particles we came to see as the medium that carried the force in question. With gravity we call that particle the graviton.
To Albert Einstein’s thinking gravity was not so much a matter of force, much less nature, but more a matter of topography. Of how space is shaped.
One attribute of mass we now understand matters is that it bends space, as space is bent so is the path of any object traveling through that space the mass bends. And this alteration in course is, as far as we know, in the direction of the mass causing the detour.
Now you would think that Einstein’s view of gravity would replace Newton’s, but we for the most part prefer to keep what we like of Newtonian gravity and combine it with Einstein’s version. As far as I can see the two contradict each other, Either Newton was right, or Einstein is right, and from what I see Einstein is right.
At this point I’m taking a break so I can work on the next post in the series. I can give you a look at the starting assumption, at that is that the magick of fantasy worlds can be a science, because science can be applied to it. How? That I will explain later.