Science Needs to Rediscover Itself

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It has been a very long time since I’ve found the inspiration to write. It happens, especially when the mind is running many threads of thought, trying to resolve problems. Contemplation is a necessary mechanism for humans, as we do not process information in a linear fashion. Our minds explore countless connections between synapses until a suitable conclusion is revealed. We are not computers, because computers are imperfect — they are created with incomplete information about the nature of existence. Even the most advanced AI algorithms, at the most fundamental level, look for patterns that we, the programmers, have defined with an incomplete understanding of the universe. This is to say that we cannot program an AI to perceive things we cannot inherently conceive. Sure, it can certainly discern new permutations based on relationships we’ve already defined. It can compute these new permutations with seemingly amazing speed, yet when the conclusion is presented by the AI, invariably we can say “Oh, I should have seen that relationship.”

The universe is all about relationships. Every particle and every wave, are inexorably linked to a single event we are unable to grasp — the beginning of space-time. Whatever your belief system, they are all predicated on some point in the distance “past” where everything began — following the prevalent belief that there must have been some sort of beginning. Physics predicts the life and death of particles, stars and the universe itself, but without understanding the effect of beginning, we can’t begin to understand the initial cause.

Einstein’s greatest strength was that he conceived his initial theories unbounded by the constraints of the scientific community. He was a patent clerk in Switzerland with a great deal of time to contemplate a multitude of new ideas, without being discouraged by the “theory-du-jour”. He pondered seemingly unrelated problems to form a deeper understanding of the relationships inherent within the universe itself. Einstein gave humanity invaluable insights into the universe, but his greatest gift, which we tend to ignore, was a new way of thinking about the universe — everything is related in some form or fashion.

The human mind is the greatest computational machine we currently have at our disposal. We try to improve on it by creating faster, more powerful machines, but these can never replace the structure of the human mind. AI is a tool, just like a hammer, and it can never replace the human mind. Humans can leap to unrelated conclusions as we are, for the most part, unbounded in thought. A child is able to dream beyond the confines of “commonsense”. It is only until we’ve constrained their thoughts that they continue down a path of belief molded by the collective. I am referring to imagination, and not conforming to morality — morality is just a system of rules for coexistence and should not be a contemplative constraint. Assuming that we can coexist, the human mind should be free to explore unorthodox connections.

In my opinion, this is the biggest conundrum the scientific community as a whole is facing. We’ve done a very good job of specializing in one particular school of thought and exploration. Physics, Chemistry, Cosmology, Engineering, Psychology, Biology and on and on. There is nothing at all wrong with this, but how often do we cross-pollinate these disciplines? At the root, many of the disciplines share a common language in mathematics, logic and philosophy, but how often does a cosmologist look to biology for potential connections? I do not believe that the universe can be understood by only investigating one discipline. Every aspect of existence must be related if existence issued forth from a single point in time and space — the beginning.

If we go back to the early days of science, to the time of Aristotle, it was more common to study a multitude of disciplines to explore the whole. They understood that you cannot understand the purpose of a part without understanding the total object. You can’t understand the purpose of the elephant’s trunk, without understanding it’s context to the whole elephant. When most people are doing a jigsaw puzzle, they group the pieces, then begin to build the picture. Each piece has its place in the whole, but to know if you assembled the pieces correctly you look at the complete picture. This is where science has often failed. It may seem as if the speed of light is irrelevant to psychology, but do you truly know that it is so? Does the speed of light somehow affect our ability to perceive reality via consciousness? Does quantum entanglement hold the answer to why or how we have memories? Does memory have anything to do with Gravity? Why does an atomic structure resemble a solar system?

It seems to me that rather than encouraging specialization, we need to redesign our education system for the sciences to focus on the whole, while exploring the pieces. Each new discovery should be weighed against the whole of human understanding to see if there are potential connections, or solutions, not previously understood. A true “theory of everything” should truly describe everything. It should explain how the universe exists as well as why it exists.

We need a new kind of science.

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