This post is continuation of the previous post on scientific discoveries and insight on the nature of matter that we have gained over past couple of hundred years.
Whenever I discuss these topics with others, most ask me why it really matters. Does knowing what “matter” is, of any significance to the common man? Is an understanding of these phenomena necessary?
Despite having extensive experimental evidence for the classical theories, quantum mechanics and relativity, they are neither widely known and understood nor accepted. This baffles me and I can only speculate on the reasons why. Many people find scientific concepts complex and difficult to understand. Surprisingly this is also true in most developed countries. The difficulty stems from the lack of proper grounding and good teaching methods in early years, which cultivates a lack of interest later in life.
The other reason could be that many are more concerned with day to day life to ponder about these questions. Living in the society of today is all about earning a livelihood or pursuit of happiness which is increasingly becoming the pursuit of money, luxury and comfort. While there is nothing wrong with this it also happens to be a never-ending pursuit. We have lot of more technology, amenities and comfort than compared to a few centuries back but do we really lead happier and fulfilled life? Important thing to note that marginal utility of any desire decreases as it becomes increasingly available.
The third reason could be metal comfort. Sometimes there are ready answers provided to us that we grow up with. It’s much easier accepting them and living within these bounds rather than question the artificial bounds itself. Also, what we learn early in life seems familiar and forms our intuition and as a result what we already know seems intuitively right, regardless of merit or correctness of the belief. That’s why new information doesn’t seem to matter that much.
So, why does it really matter? Well! How do you go about life if you don’t know what you are really living for? I find this important and significant but I am in the minority. Would you play a game without knowing the rules? What if you start playing a game that you don’t know why you are playing and you have to figure out the rules as you go? Someone else who has played the game explains a loose set of rules they figured out when they played. You find they apply in some situations but not in others. Would you continue playing believing the handed down set as true or make an attempt to find and improve your understanding? For YOU to play the GAME, isn’t it important to know the RULES or would you rather play the same way irrespective of the rules?
To add to all this very few of the discoveries of the past century are taught in schools these days. And when we grow up we continue to live our lives based on things we already know and have accepted. Very few seek out new knowledge and still fewer accept it, especially if it challenges the very core of what we have believed. “Surely, I can’t have been mistaken all this while!” “In any case I have done okay living the way that I lived so why should I change what I believe here on?” “It doesn’t really matter” Hence the greatest discoveries of the past couple of centuries are kept but for a few to enjoy and pass on. Others just go on to say “There is so much we don’t know perhaps will never find out” Never for once bothering to look!