Sunday, July 17, 2005

The blessing of science.

On Saturday, I went to the Mediage museum in Odaiba. Odaiba is the heart of Tokyo waterfront, with the headquarter of Fuji television and several other tourist attractions nearby. The Sony Computer Science Laboratories Exhibition 2005 is currently on, and I was scheduled to give a lecture on "The blessings of science" to the general public.
I started my talk with how observing insects in the nature in my childhood helped me become a scientist. Insects are rich feeders to your brain's emotional system. When you are immersing yourself among the wild creatures, you experience various forms of emotion. Discovering a beetle, you reach for it, and realize that it is actually not a favored species of beetle, but a wild cockroach. You shudder and want to run away from the spot. Sometimes you encounter an elegant butterfly and thank for the passage of season which brought that particular time of the year again. Observing insects and other living things in nature, you go through rich and complex ecology of emotions that has been passed on to us from the ancient time in which our ancestors hunted for food in the wild.
I went on to describe how science is similar to caring for others. If your mind is closed to how others feel, think, and see the world, then your mind is also closed to science. Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravitation because he did not just say "apples fall from the trees anyway. I don't care why". If you put yourself in the position of an apple in your imagination, then all these questions comes into your mind. Why should I fall? Why should I fall with this particular acceleration? If I put myself in the position of the moon, do I have to fall too? Doing a good science is similar to putting yourself in the position of an old woman, a homeless, an infant, a man who has just been made redundant. Science is all about caring for the various things in the universe, and therein lies the greatest blessing of science.

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