Richard Feynman essays

The Value of Science

(OMGG) excerpts:

[also thanks Brian Cox for mentioning it on SoundCloud]


Another value of science is the fun called intellectual enjoyment which some people get from reading and learning and thinking about it, and which others get from working in it.
The grand adventure
 
The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, come again and again when we look at any problem deeply enough. With more knowledge comes deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, but with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading to more wonderful questions and mysteries – certainly a grand adventure!

The atoms come into my brain, dance a dance, then go out always new atoms but always doing the same dance, remembering what the dance was yesterday.

The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt.

we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to he unsure – that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes that this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle. Permit us to question – to doubt, that’s all – not to be sure.

Nearly everybody dislikes war. Our dream today is peace. In peace, man can develop best the enormous possibilities he seems to have.

We have more of these forces to control than did the ancients. And maybe we are doing a little better than most of them could do. But what we ought to be able to do seems gigantic compared with our confused accomplishments,
 
Why is this? Why can’t we conquer ourselves?

If we take everything into account, not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn’t know, then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.
 
This is not a new idea; this is the idea of the age of reason.

These ideas do filter down (in spite of all the conversation about TV replacing thinking), and lots of kids get the spirit – and when they have the spirit you have a scientist.

It is our responsibility.. to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed, and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.

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