Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ignorance is the Answer

I was at a friend’s family event the other day. I sat across from a very eccentric cousin who is/was a physicist. He began talking very abruptly and loudly about things that no one wanted to hear about, religion, science, politics, genetics, etc. He was going around the table and putting people on the spot. Everyone around just wanted to enjoy the warm food and familiar faces; it was the lunch after a funeral.

I knew the inevitable was coming, that he was going to ask me what I did. And he did. Then he immediately began spouting off loudly and excitedly about what I do. When I told him that I went to art school first, he reminded me that it was one of Einstein’s assertions that it is of the utmost importance to bring imagination to science. This was very nice to hear again, I had not bargained for this conversation when I envisioned the day.

But it led me to a place. It led me to think about discovery again. I know that this is science at its most ideal form and there is so much that I have to do in the trenches before I ever get to this point. But, if we don’t think about these things, then what keeps us going really?

I thought about how every discovery started with someone asking a question that no one knew the answer to. I had a flash that there is a humble similarity between that activity and the questions we must ask along the way when we are learning. I know this link may seem trite, but I just have such a hard time asking questions and admitting ignorance, but I realized that this is the very same place we go to when walking to the door of discovery. Admitting you don’t know is actually one of the most productive things you can do, either for your own edification or perhaps for the rest of the worlds too.

And I love this quote:

{No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.}—Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)

1 comment:

  1. I love that quote. It reminds me to try to stay positive and optimistic. It's so easy to be pessimistic than to be optimistic.