Like many, I had the opportunity to waste 6+ years of my life in a couple of universities. As always the schools of medicine, engineering, and law were the ones that had long queues of enthusiasts. I picked Physics for undergraduate as my first choice because back then I believed “science rules man!”. How naïve.
Physics was an honest and clean pain in the ass as a faculty. No course was like the other. The epitome seemed all over the place in that it touched chemistry, electrical engineering, solid state, astronomy, statistics, and religion. It was only during the first year that I enjoyed some fun stories such as: apple fell from the tree while Newton was observing and flirting with the girls, -or- the twin paradox tale where someone tried to part the age of twin brothers by years, only if one of them could travel close to the speed of light. After the first year however, it all became mathematics of most intense kind –where we almost ran out of symbolic characters and had to tap into Greek characters to explain why space bends around mass.
Every learning was theory bound. Though that applies to all areas of science, Physics is highly theory dependent. Every theory starts and end with something like this: one day Adam was doing something and suddenly realized:
– A ~ B : A increases or decreases proportionally with B – Observation / Theory
– A : B : Let’s do some experimentation to find a curve as to what that proportion is – Experimentation
– A / B : All experimentations suggest there is a constant (=K) that relates A to B – Thesis
– A = K * B : and K came from experimentation. – Conclusion
And suddenly we have a constant and a law. The constant is called Adam’s Number. And ladies and gentlemen, here I give you the Law of Adam. Almost all of Newton and Thermodynamic laws were formed like this. The only complexities had to do with the context and environment where K could be a function of temperature, time, or dimension.
This is how physics legitimized itself. Physics went to bed with Mathematics, to look secure and complete. I know my description seems funny and simplistic. Doesn’t it? Read on…
During graduate studies and in order to get accredited I had to take two other courses: Philosophy of Science and History of Science. That was a treat. Simply put, these two courses felt like some stood right in front of you and said “You think you learned some serious shit? Go Fuck Yourself”.
After six years of hard work and studying some of the most complex and abstract areas of science that had no resonation or correspondence to the outside world or everyday life, it was argued that : you should take everything you learned relatively and consider that some of the laws have been contextual and have lacked objectivity of criterion. Therefore they don’t pass coherentism and have problem of the criterion.
The punch line of the course was even more piercing. It inferred, Altitude of Perspective matters. The simple example was: the earth seems flat when you’re close to it. It’s round when you elevate. So we have two sets of laws that equally apply within context. Newtonian laws of gravity and General Relativity, respectively. After that course and the sudden collapse of my scientific beliefs, I have stopped placing all of my hopes on science. We all thrive to blend our beliefs in science in the hope that the overwhelming certainty and inevitability of science will prove our points. It’d take one years of logical and emotional exhaustion to realize how over-rated and relative that hope is.
Science is one of the best vehicles we possess to explain scoped problems, but science is not the only vehicle. Instincts, philosophy, and synaptic elasticity provide an invaluable sea of data. Human beings fall short of enjoying the ability to articulate or reason within that realm.