Journey to the Unkown

image [CC BY-NC 2.5] 2015 by in “

Standing on the shoulders of giants. This phrase is most commonly known from Issac Newton who, in writing a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, wrote “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” He means that his contributions to the world of science and philosophy do not stem from his mind alone, but from the collective knowledge of all his predecessors giving him a jumping-off point into the unknown.

As someone who has had the job of studying these people and their contributions, it is easy to lose sight of what it really means to learn something. And it is easy to see why. We spend our entire school career learning things that have already been known, being fed information by someone who knows everything we need to know. Science labs consist of written-out procedures with predicted outcomes, and every book has had its meaning broken apart and pulverized by the people before us. But to really learn, we first need to, as Vera Pavlova puts it, “” We need to see how little we actually know and realize how much we don’t. For example, researchers say that 80% of Earth’s oceans are “.” We would think that the world’s oceans have been meticulously mapped out because our education makes it seem that way. Our education makes it seem like everything is known and there is always someone who can tell you anything you need to know, but that is not the case. We need to realize how much the seemingly wise, all-knowing greats don’t know. And feel how it feels to be at the precipice of human knowledge only to see that there is an entire unknown universe ahead of us.

Once we realize how vast the ocean of the unknown is, it is off to the grindstone. It is time to climb up the shoulders of the giants and wade through the sea of human wisdom. It is time “to correspond with books,” the literary offspring of the greats, “by rewriting them.” To rewrite is to become the master of the information and to transform the information into knowledge. It is not enough to simply read books, we have to rewrite them. Take notes on, explain to yourself, and explain to others the contents of these books. This way the information in these books becomes absolutely clear in your mind so much so that you can simplify it without losing its message. The information becomes malleable and turns into knowledge. With knowledge, we can build bridges and connections, ask questions and look for answers. This is the true purpose of our education. It prepares us and gives us the tools and skills necessary for our journey into the unknown.

Finally, we reach the midnight hour, the time in our journey where the day ends, and a new one begins. Where the day of education ends and a new day of discovery begins. Now is the time to talk, not to converse or correspond like before, but to talk with intimacy. Talk with the all-powerful forces of time and space that govern our universe in an attempt to learn something new about them. Unleash every bit of knowledge you have during that talk and listen to what the universe has to say back. Then take that response and build upon it using your knowledge once again to create theories and postulations surrounding that response. Propose those theories to the universe once again and wait for its response. Take that response and use it to refine your theory. Propose and refine, propose and refine. At the end of it all, once you have talked “with the clock by tapping a wall in the solitary confinement of the universe” and gleaned some small, novel parcel of science, or philosophy, or whatever, and made a dent in the great unknown, you will have become great.

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THIS A REVISED VERSION OF A PREVIOUS POST:

Climbing the Shoulders of Giants

image [CC BY-NC 2.5] 2015 by in “

Standing on the shoulders of giants. This phrase is most commonly known from Issac Newton who, in writing a letter to his rival Robert Hooke, wrote “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” He means that his contributions to the world of science and philosophy do not stem from his mind alone, but from the collective knowledge of all his predecessors giving him a jumping-off point into the unknown. As someone whose job it is to learn about these great people and their contributions, it is easy to lose sight of what it really means to learn something. I have spent my entire school career learning things that have already been known, being fed information by someone who knows everything I need to know. Science labs consist of written-out procedures with predicted outcomes, and every book has had its meaning broken apart and pulverized by people before you. Seldom do I get the chance to “,” to feel what the greats felt probing into a world unknown. Many people seldom get the chance to discover something new. I hope someday in my life I will get that chance. Whether or not I will, I don’t know.

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