Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Science enriches our life. Without science, we would be missing out different inventions and areas of knowledge that have helped to progress in life and learn about the world.
THERE IS NOTHING GREATER OR HOLIER THAN KNOWLEDGE
Science is knowledge or state of knowing. Science is the endless frontier; therefore opportunities for discoveries (new knowledge), invention and development are boundless. Some examples of endless frontiers are numbers, space, time, sea waves, birth and death.
The following statement of Henri Poincare may be recalled here. “The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.”
Science generates power. What sort of power? The power of new knowledge! It is well known that Knowledge dispels ignorance. With knowledge one raises above others; one becomes happy. It shapes one, not only as a man of success but also as a man of values. Science is the greatest tool to generate new ideas, make new discoveries, and fabricate new instruments and to lower the degree of empiricism. It is a rich source for technology and invention that helps us to understand the universe and also of ourselves as a part of the world in which we live. It is an integral part of our everyday life. Without science, we would be missing out on several different inventions andareas of knowledge that have helped us to progress in life and learn about the world. It also helps to achieve economic growth and prosperity.
Science can cover a variety of different questions and fields. It opens up the possibilities of imagination and exploration. Our modern electronic world would not have been possible were it not for our understanding of the quantum world. Everything around us concerns science. Simple cooking involves processes like boiling, evaporation and condensation. Transportation, navigation and many other everyday activities involve calculations, concepts of physics as also logical and critical thinking.
Geologists studying about the ages of our planet Earth, fossils, continental shifting, causes of natural calamities such as earthquake and tsunami, finding oil fields, natural resources, end up with theories, prediction, or something which improves our daily lives. Science enriches our lives deeply at personal and emotional level as well. Without science we wouldn’t enjoy all the great inventions that we have and utilize every day.
We are living in the environment of animate and inanimate things. We should have the knowledge of everything around us to adapt to the surroundings for survival. Biology is a fundamental science which has also helped advances in medicine. Understanding our own physiology and the causes for our discomforts, we can launch a battle on invading organisms and degenerative diseases and, save lives bymedical intervention. Chemistry too has application in several fields, for example, Pharmaceutical Chemistry develops new drugs for treatment of diseases and keeps on improving upon them.
The whole edifice of science is based on evidence; the scientific facts are evidences. An exact and impartial analysis of facts is possible in the field of science alone. Science seeks the truth and truth alone supported by evidence, where exact and impartial analysis is paramount. Exposure to such a discipline will produce a state of mind that makes way for impartial analysis in all matters of life.
Science inculcates discipline in a few other areas too. If we observe dancers we can always see them in a dancing posture while walking or standing; even while speaking, their facial expression is always different from those of an ordinary person. Likewise, a military trained person will always walk and stand in an erect posture; we can witness alertness in his dealings. All these people attained such habits by training. A kind of discipline is imposed in such training. Their mind is tuned and sharpened. Science also imposes such a kind of discipline for impartial analysis and logical reasoning, in all dealings of life in those engaged in scientific pursuits.
THE PROCESS OF SCIENCE
The process of science is iterative. Science goes back on itself so that useful ideas are built and collected and used to learn more about nature; and successive investigations of a topic may lead back to the same question at deeper levels.
The process of science is very exciting, complex, and somewhat unpredictable. To make progress, it requires many different types of scientist, engaged in a variety of field activities. It challenges one’s understanding until a discovery /invention/development is made. The development of modern chemistry is an example. Many scientists had to work and toil hard to understand the structure of such molecules like chlorophyll and insulin. A generation of chemists and physicists had to work hard to unravel the complexities of gaseous state; a mass of strong evidence in which Kinetic theory of gases and atomic theory that are domains of physics helped in the development of modern chemistry as well. The different branches of science are indeed interlinked.
History of sciences speaks in volumes, about the complicated situation and pressure undergone by the scientists over the centuries. A number of scientific investigations were stillborn even at the concepts level and many investigations were not reported even afterwards. The successes are known to the world; sorrows were borne by the investigators; but, even recording failures is important in science, to guide future investigations. And no concept in science is or can be declared to be absolutely final; there is always a scope for revision or improvement.
WONDERS OF SCIENCE
Wonder is the mother of all sciences. The first wonder - it is unlimited and endless. It has changed many things and our perception about them (almost everything) around. What was once thought impossible, now may be a reality and possible. The mode of thinking of the total human race has changed. Fear and anxiety about the nature has vanished. Science has revolutionized the human civilization. It has made man’s life happier and more comfortable. Distance is no more a hurdle at all. It has made inroads into the secrets of the nature. It is possible to probe the space in all possible directions and so on.
Electricity is one of the greatest wonders of modern science. Electricity can run any type of machinery in factory; light our rooms, run buses and trains, and lift and pump water, for irrigation. The rise/surge in the fast modes of transport and communication has changed the world into a global village. In the field of agriculture, science has helped in increasing the crop production and improving quality. Science has enabled man to diagnose and treat many dangerous diseases. Information technology and computers have revolutionized our life-styles. Space technology has encouraged men to travel to probe into space and explore the other planets.
We have become scientifically more advanced compared to our ancestors. Now, one can build castles inside an ocean and even in space. Television brings the whole world into our rooms and even in our hand as well. The internet connectivity has shrunk the world for communicating and exchanging vast amounts of knowledge in an instant. We have a permanent space station from where astronauts watch the weather, solar flares and other cosmic events. We are now able to grow even new human organs. The world has undergone a tremendous change because of the rapid strides made by science and technology. There is hardly a place left where science has not made its mark. More than 40,000 journals are published in science alone world-wide. No other discipline, other than science, can reach even one hundredth of this figure.ArifJinha at the University of Ottawa estimated that the number of scholarly articles published since 1965 is about 50 millions. The growth rate is 1.4 million of articles per year; and the rate is estimated to be 1 to 1.29 articles per minute. But 150,608 scientists dominate the research journals, having their names on 41% of all papers. These data speak volumes about the surge/wave of scientific activities around the world.
THE BEAUTY OF SCIENCE
The beauty of science lies in its capacity to define unit to measure and counting, very small and very large quantities. Quantifying the concepts such as time, distance, volume, temperature, energy, mass and so on is very essential and is useful in scientific calculations and daily use as well. A few examples are given below:
Planck time is the time light takes to travel one Planck length. According to Max Planck the smallest possible measurable units of length and time is 10-43 seconds. Theoretically, this is the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible; no smaller division of time than this has any meaning. The largest time unit is the supereon, composed of eons. Eons are divided into eras, which are in turn divided into periods, epochs and ages.Astronomical unit (AU) represents the mean distance between the Earth and our Sun. An AU is approximately 93 million miles (150 million km) or approximately 8 light-minutes.The Light year is the distance light travels in a year, a unit of astronomical distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in one year, which is 9.4607 × 10 12km (nearly 6 trillion miles). The smallest distance measure so far, is roughly equal to 1.6 × 10-35 m or about 10-20 timesthe size of a proton while the largest is One gigaparsec which is about 3.26 billion light-years, 1 T M C is the abbreviation of one thousand million cubic feet = 28.3 Billion Liters.Within the known, observable universe, it is believed that between 120 to 300 sextillions (that’s 1.2 x 10²³ to 3.0 x 10²³) stars exist; and the estimated atoms are, between 1078 to 1082. It is estimated that the number of atoms in a minute mark or dot is about 1013, with an uncertainty of at least a factor of 10 in both directions. Atoms, however, go on practically forever, yet according to Martin Rees, it has probably life period of about 1035 years.According to ‘quora ‘at sea level, at 15 degree C, the total number of molecules in a cubic meter of air is 2.53 x 1025 molecules of air per cubic meter or 2.53 x 10 19 cubic centimeter It hides and seeks; scientists do play with it and enjoy it too!
Science is a system used to convey the rationality embedded in nature. It is in fact, amazing to think that the world indeed, is rational. That is to say, that there is a real meeting point, a real convergence between the natural world and the intellectual world and the rationality of man; man is a part of nature which is the height of the beauty. There is orderliness in a rainbow, in the form of celestial bodies; endlessly tracing elliptical paths in cosmos without collision, in the periodical occurrences of eclipses, in the birth and death of stars, in symmetry found in almost in all aspects of nature, in definite proportion in which chemical compounds are formed and in almost everything. Observe a crystal say common salt, a solid material. Its constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly and continual manner extending in all three dimensions. And a chemist also, revealed by X-ray diffraction, enjoys the beauty of the formation of crystals; it is indeed a live dazzling show. Geologists while mining do admire different types of crystals, naturally formed. Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) is a division of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It currently identifies more than 129 million organic and inorganic substances and 67 million protein and DNA sequences, plus additional information about each substance. It is updated with around 15,000 additional new substances daily Chemistry focuses on the structure and properties of particular kinds of substances and especially on the changes that they undergo. The analysis part, helps to understand structure and synthesis part to produce them in the laboratory and industry, to understand the structures of existing molecules and in making new ones as well.
Physics is one branch of science which deals with matter and its motion through space and time as also with related concepts such as energy and force, heat and radiations and so on. Nothing comes proximate to the precision with which physics enables us to understand theworld around. The goals of physics are directed towards explaining and predicting, how the universe works; for example, the phenomenon of mass energy conversion. The laws of physics are applicable also in chemistry, biology and astrophysics/cosmos.
Biology is the science of life; it covers the study of all the living beings and their interactions with the biosphere. It has to do with the origin, structure, function, development, and distribution of organism, animals and plants. There are suggestions that living beings cannot be originated from inert matter and therefore the life proceeds only from life. This is a biological axiom called Biogenesis. The continuity of life lies on the transmission of the hereditary characteristics, which is based on the DNA molecules. Living beings interact with their environment. As the environmental conditions change, the organisms have to adapt themselves to those changes. Evolution refers to the changes that occur in the organisms so that they adapt to the changes of the environment. Those changes in the organism can be considered in the context of the evolutionary adaptation that should occur in the DNA, such changes are inherited by the progeny. The human brain which is responsible for all these developments is biological matter, sustaining itself for a limited duration, utilizing energy; it works and understands the complexities of matter and energy. Does it mean matter understands matter?! May be! But we are also trying to understand how the human brain thinks, innovates, works and understands everything around and those not yet known! According to ancient Indian scriptures everything originated from the space!
Science is a boon and a bane as well. If it is bane it is because of some hasty conclusions and the presence of animal instincts in human beings. We cannot blame science for our erroneous decision. Nature perfectly obeys its own beautiful and systematic laws. It directs us tacitly to obey its law for our happiness and harmony in the animate and inanimate world as well. Problem erupts only when men exploit nature with selfish motives. While teaching science and training people in science, we have to emphasize all these aspects. The present and future scientists have to continue to toil and enhance human welfare and will live in the minds of those even yet to be born.
Science does pose challenges! Let us accept them, as there is a thrill in facing the challenges. Moreover, future belongs to new ideas, inventions, innovations and new knowledge. Science is the time proven source and resource for everything. All potential benefits to mankind will come, if they are to come at all, only through science. Therefore, like science, think science, do science and propagate science.
“Any error in this manuscript is silent testimony of the fact that it was human effort”
Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Sr. Assistant Professor
Department of Zoology
Govt. Postgraduate College Bhaderwah, JK
E-mail: [email protected]
Mob. No.: 9419369557