Disclaimer: When I wrote the title of this article I didn’t realize that I had heard it before as it was spoken by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the Joe Rogan podcast, and further presented as a title of one of the chapters in his book “Astrophysics For People in a Hurry”. The reason I am leaving it is because of two reasons: 1. It can’t be stated any better; and 2. It shows the fallibility of the human mind and memory, which may be important later on. All credit is given to Dr. Tyson for the title of this article.
Basic science is great, it’s all been figured out for you. Understanding it just means that you have to sift through all the BS and break it down in a way that you can understand.
To put it simply, science is our attempt at understanding the world around us. It’s important because we ARE chemistry, we’re also biology, and we’re physics too (some might argue that we’re only physics and all other branches of science were created to explain the physical laws which govern our world). The universe and everything in it is made up of matter (chemistry) and it interacts in a way which is governed by the laws of physics. Biology is the science of life, which means that it’s the study of how all of the chemistry and physical laws, of which everything is made, interact.
So much of understanding science is making it relevant to you. The computer which you are reading this on is made up of matter. It is likely that the screen on your computer is made up of liquid crystals that display a code (all 1’s and 0’s) in a way which your mind can comprehend! We are living in a time where technology is allowing us to observe the world in a way which would have been unimaginable even as recently as the past 100 years!
Recently I was having a conversation with a co-worker about books. I told her how I’m having a tough time reading fiction lately, because the world around us is so intriguing. Why would I need to read about magic, when quantum mechanics shows us that a photon of light behaves like matter and matter behaves like a wave of light when you get down to sizes of unfathomable scale. Why do I need to read a romance novel, when I can try to understand the biological pathways that allow us to form deep connections and feelings of love towards one another. Adventure books seem dull when compared to the expeditions that were deployed in order to observe the transit of Venus in 1776 (when Venus passes in front of the Sun), that were commissioned in order to measure the position of the Earth in space!
As Carl Sagan famously said,
Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.
Many of you are in college, and are only reading this because you need a little extra help, others are doing so because they were up at 4:00 am in an insomniac’s stupor and need something to help them fall asleep. Still others are reading this because they are already in love with the greatness of science and the story it tells. This Site is for all of you.
Question everything, draw conclusions, and fall in love with science, and you’ll begin to recognize that it’s the greatest story ever told.