By Jamshed Arslan
In a 2013 Hollywood movie, Turbo , there is a scene where the hero of the movie, a snail, looks up into the sky and sees a strange bright light. He thinks it is a comet and starts praying because he believes that seeing a bright star, is the right time for prayers. After a few moments, the snail realizes, that the bright light was actually that of an airplane and stops his prayers immediately. As soon as reality kicks in, wishful thinking fades. To me, the purpose of studying science is to know and understand reality, rather than follow illusions, spread all around us.
Ancient philosophies did help in quenching the thirst of people, as to how the universe works. But, nature is far more imaginative than we could ever think of. Nature never ceases to amaze us. For example, it is illogical to think of anything present at more than one location at the same time. Yet, this “miracle” is consistently observed in electrons. An electron can exist at more than one place at the same time. This fact in the field of quantum physics, is based on empirical evidence. Whatever our instincts tell us may or may not be true, but the criterion for truth is evidence. Whether we like it or not, electrons, or nature for that matter, do not care. It is the way it is. It is, however, our duty to explore, do experiments, and analyze data to find out what nature really is, rather than basing our ideas on assumptions. Henceforth, the second reason as to why I study science is, that I want to be part of that truth-seeking and curiosity-driven community, which is generally referred to as the community of scientists.
An offshoot of science is technology. Technological advances in the field of agriculture, have the promise to overcome the impending food crisis throughout the world. Latest technologies, like genetically modified crops, have revolutionized this particular field. One particular example that I would like to give, is that of almonds. More than 80% of the world production of almonds, is in the state of California, USA . If you see American almonds, they are usually uniform in size and shape, and have aesthetic appeal. Compare these almonds with the Pakistani variety of almonds. The latter ones not only vary in shape and size from one another, but also lack the aesthetic look, that American almonds have. The reason is simple; Americans use latest technologies like genetic modifications and latest irrigation techniques to ensure highest quality possible. This aspect is lacking in Pakistan. The irony is, that I find Pakistani almonds to be tastier than the American ones. However, trends in the market show a different picture. First impression is generally the last impression, so wherever you would find American and Pakistani almonds side by side, you would tend to buy American ones because of their aesthetic appeal. Therefore, the third reason for studying science is to uplift my country in the relevant fields of technology. My plan of doing so is by studying and understanding the current trends of technology and promoting them.
Open-mindedness and critical thinking are essential components of a democratic society. It is informed citizens who enable the country to progress. Critical thinking empowers people to evaluate evidence. These qualities leave no room for rumors to build up. What happens in third-world countries, including some Muslim countries, is that people react more than they act. Open information guided by critical thinking, will help kill any rumors that could destabilize a country. Also, people would not like to repeat their mistakes of electing same corrupt politicians again and again. Thereby, the fourth reason for studying science is, that I want to raise my children in a society, where morality is based on the evidence of truth; where people do not blindly follow a person due to sugar coated words, but follow a leader who is the most helpful to them. I want to raise my children in a democratic society, where racism has no place because science tells us that we, all humans, have the same genetic code. Each of us is unique, but equal to any other person.
In conclusion, science has, indeed, reshaped our thoughts and has developed progressive societies. From curing various ailments to building rockets for exploring the universe, we see fruits of science everywhere. I want to study science because I want to progress. I want to seek the truth of reality. I want to know how the universe really works. I want to rule out myths and superstitions, that mask the face of true evidences. I believe that instead of worrying about what flaws are there in our society, I need to focus on correcting myself. It is science that gives me the tools of skepticism and empiricism to do so. It is science that deserves my quality-time. It is science that is, indeed, the best use of my time.