Saturday, April 04, 2009

Robbed of the magic

I remember visiting magic shows as a lil kid, maybe 4-5, too young to understand that illusions are just smoke and mirrors. I dint have to know enough of the laws of nature to know that something here was defying them. The wide eyed, wide mouthed wonder while watching a carpet fly, a sawed up lady spring back to life and a rabbit popping out of a hat, the gasp, the silent movement of the lips shaping a barely audible how, all markers of an unending thirst to know more and a willingness to go to great lenghts to find out the answer.
Let us now imagine a scenario where instead of a magician in vivid colors pushing the limits of reality, an old grim looking man in a dusty room , equiped with a black board and a chalk teaches a child exaclty how each of these tricks work. The only difference here, is that the child has never really seen these tricks being performed.
While there's a high probability of the first child learning the technique behind the illusions by taking great pains teacher or not, It would take a miracle to even faintly interest the second one. The poor thing is wondering why in the world he should know how to make a furry animal quite similar to a rat jump out of apparel used to cover the head of balding men.

Let us now take the case of men in the years bygone undertaking long and perilous journeys to discover the secrets of life, to measure the world and the skies. Their constant urge to know constantly drawing the best out of them, with scant regard to their own lives, let alone luxury and comfort. Juxtapose this with our unwillingness to walk till a lecture theater a few hundred meters away to learn sometimes these very facts to the unearthing of which lifetimes were dedicated. Centuries of knowledge maybe packed into 50 minutes. How many times do we feel its worth the effort ?

Curiosity and wonder is inherent in every child. It would take a lot to kill it. Maybe 12 + 4 is exaclty what it takes.


tata birla said...

i like to think curiosity is not killed, just dormant. :|

smilingassassin said...

@yogi... be it dormant or be it dead, its worth less if it is not alive...

gow.. loved the thought... it tuk me sometime to fall into the track and figure it all out... but once i did, all of it made perfect sense! i hvae always had this weird thot- the ancient researchers and prophets needed to little ground work to bring up with their prophecies and facts and thoughts because the existing knowledge was almost non-existent but now to invent/discover a minute thing there is so much of ground work to be done that people fear risking their life doing only the ground work and ending up with no substantial results! so they refrain from any kind of ground work study at all so that they can just follow the masses, do the bare minimum that is required and employ themselves providing mor security to life... and security of life, earlier was not an extravagant option as it is now.. that probably explains why we do not really attend the 20 minute capsule classes :P did i complicate it all? hehe

Atri said...

"Juxtapose this with our unwillingness to walk till a lecture theater a few hundred meters away to learn sometimes these very facts to the unearthing of which lifetimes were dedicated."

Its not as bad as you make it sound. Those lifetimes were dedicated because the ones dedicating them probably loved what they were doing. Do we?

Its scary that we are running out of facts to discover as time passes by. In this day and age, does it really make more sense to dedicate YOUR life to learning about facts newton and einstein discovered, or try and discover one of your own?

gowri said...

@ atri: hmm i dont think we are running out of facts , jus that discoverin them is gettin harder and the competition tougher
and yeah rest of it was pretty much my point, since most of the facts are laid out before us , before we ask the questions by observation.
The fun of pondering and finding out is lost. Thinking long and hard about the speed limit of the universe may not make u discover relativity, but will definitely make u appreciate it better when presented

gowri said...

@ ash , i cudnt agree more.
too much groundwork in everyfield and all that ground work presented in thick texts before the questions are even asked , making it tougher to get thru.
plus in ancient days the questions were related to what you could see being a commoner , like - why does the apple fall ?
today the questions themselves are for the learned - how many dimensions exist in the strings that make up fundamental particles ?
plus a life of research is associated with fear and boredom.
what if your next meal depended on you figuring out the answer to the universe?
so all said and done, i will be jumping into the safety net and doin the same bare minimum, hello masses :)

tata birla said...

I see hope in dormancy @ ash.
It is the one thing that drives the world.
As an afterthought, we would appreciate the Einsteins and Newtons much lesser had the whole world been as creative and curious as they had been.
It is the muck that makes us appreciate purity.
It is the mess food that makes us appreciate home food :P

They are great only because of the obstacles they crossed. Curiosity was one of them.

Full Of Life said...

Hehe...I was recently reading this book "100 Greatest Science Discoveries" and I realized that perhaps the curiosity of the unknown is the most difficult to satisfy making Copernicus or Galileo spend entire lifetimes measuring planetary movements or other details which are available at a click of the mouse today.

Nevertheless, I think the reason there is this unwillingless to learn today because of the lack of freedom in choice. There is no scope for any imagination to creep in and we are forced to studying things we do not want to.

True, research has come to be termed with near doom. Even now people continue to ask me as to why I should continue to study when I can as well start earning money and be happy with it. With such a thought process, I am surprised the term research or experimentation is still alive today.

Read that book, I'm telling ya, you'll want to enter a lab as soon as you can! :D