Remember Martin: Science is an Analogy.

I have been thinking a lot lately about “Truth” and the scientific method and what we think of as “scientific truth”. If one looks back in time, you will find many times that the prevailing “scientific truth” was thrown over by subsequent research. For example most scientists used to believe the earth was the center of the universe and then along came Copernicus with the alternate theory that the Sun was the center. There was a long period of argument where the two sides went at it because they both had math and observational data that “proved”the conflicting theories. Over time most came to believe Copernicus because of the weight of data and experience tipped in his favor. But it remains a theory, an explanation of our experience that makes sense, an analogy. An explanation of the thing is not the thing itself, nor is it a complete explanation, only an explanation of what we can observe.

The entire process of science is attempting to explain by analogy what we observe. And as we observe more, we keep finding problems with the explanations. Newton did a good job of upgrading our understanding of the physical world with the laws of physics and they fit our observations very well. Until some guys looked deeper and discovered Quantum physics. At the atomic level, things behave very differently than the physical level. Some particles only appear when they are observed. Some particles can communicate state changes over long distances without any detectible communication mechanisms. These observations remain largely unexplained. Does the fact we cannot yet understand them to mean they don’t exist? No, just that our analogy to how it works is incomplete. It may never be complete. Because how those particles operate is not by laws that our scientists discovered, they have no comprehension of our laws or understanding. They are doing their own thing.

What we call scientific “laws” are just our current analogy understanding of what we have so far observed. Not the thing itself. Remember this and your stress to find the “truth” or the “law” that explains it all may be diminished.

Seed Crystal: what is it?

Starting a new Category here at DGC: Seed Crystals.

A seed crystal can get a chemical process going. Especially in a super saturated environment. It is the catalyst that starts a larger process going. Like a spark to start a fire. Here is how Robert Persig describes it in Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“A super saturated solution is one in which the saturation point, at which no more material will divide dissolve, has been exceeded. This can occur because the saturation point becomes higher as the temperature of the solution is increased. When you dissolve the material at a high temperature and then cool the solution, the material sometimes doesn’t crystallize out because the molecules don’t know how. They require something to get them started, a seed crystal, or a grain of dust or even a sudden scratch or tap on the surrounding glass.”

In today’s super saturated information environment, we need seed crystals. Tiny sparks to create new structures of understanding. I have found I don’t need more information, more media, more unrelated data, I need seed crystals to start the consolidation process that can make it all make sense. This new category will contain the items and examples of seed crystals that I have found useful. These are a reminder to myself to go back to the seeds, the first principal thinking when stuck. And yes I am often stuck. Usually because of supersaturation, not information deficiency.