Understanding Scientific Thinking and Discoveries

Understanding Scientific Thinking and Discoveries

"We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology." —Carl Sagan

For intellectuals, striving to understand scientific thinking, discoveries, and emerging theories is crucial to a satisfying life of the mind; however, it can also be humbling for anyone who is not a scientist (or, in other words, a practitioner of all that we declare “not rocket science”).  

It’s easy to say that a person from several hundred years ago would think most of the technology we spend every moment of our days with now—laptops, smartphones, electric lights—was pure magic. It’s harder to admit that we typically experience these technologies ourselves as magic and simply know there is scientific understanding possessed by other brilliant minds that led to all the inventions now defining modern life. 

Of course, we don’t need to completely understand the science behind all the technology we interact with. There is a reason many non-scientists perk up seeing a headline about the latest study on risks and benefits of coffee consumption but tune out a physicist gushing over a new view of two neutron stars that merged 200K lightyears away from earth. 

Yet, it is quintessentially human and almost unavoidable to want to understand how the universe works and how we got here. And we are living in an astounding time in terms of getting answers about that. Gravitational wave astronomy is allowing us to see mind-bogglingly distant views of time and space. 

We can figure out if space-time has contracted or expanded by even a miniscule amount with gravitational wave detection, which lets us know where a neutron star once was and has disappeared. We don’t yet know what happened right at the Big Bang, and we may never know what happened before it, but we know what happened pretty shortly afterward, and the evolution of the universe is being rapidly demystified—along with its distant future. Meanwhile, our understanding of time keeps getting more complicated and mind-bending. 

If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge and understanding of science in general and physics and biology in particular, here are some book recommendations:

Note: Special thanks to Dr. Jonathan Whitmore, Astrophysicist and Interintellect member, for his thoughts on this topic.