Things that go bump in the night…

So, reading more and thinking more. That is always a dangerous combination. Here is what I am thinking about right now.

Given that the universe is at least as holistic as modern physics thinks it is, perhaps even more, what can we gain by exploring smaller and smaller parts of it to more and more resolution?

I guess that the quandary is as follows. Every part of the universe, from the smallest particle can effect every other part of the universe. We are, in fact, all in this together. By segmenting our knowledge into smaller and smaller disciplines, are we in fact doing our greater good a disservice?

To understand a system, be it a computer system, an engine, or a biosphere – one needs a high level understanding of how all of the pieces and parts interact.

For example – you would never take you car to a person who only knew how spark plugs worked (but knew every last little detail about spark plugs) to get it fixed would you? You would want some one who had a general understanding of the entire thing worked.

Same goes with modern science. We have people who are so tightly focused on their specialties that they cannot see the whole picture. We have people who only think about string theory and how it works, but know little about the structure of distant stars. I would think that generalists who have a good understanding of many fields of study (but not in depth) might be needed. If for nothing more then to keep abreast of all of the developments in all of the fields and try and see where one field might benefit from others.

After all, we have seen that what is true at the microscopic can also be true at the macroscopic.


3 thoughts on “Things that go bump in the night…”

  1. I think that both efforts are important.<BR/><BR/>As far as training goes though, I don’t know how you can properly train a generalist, or a (a term I prefer) synethesizer. Obviously, it is easy to train someone to know a little about a lot of things, but to get something from that you need a unique mind and usually a pretty detailed knowledge of at least one thing. Since you don’t know ahead of time what disciplines will combine together to create a new synthesis training for this is tough.<BR/><BR/>Obviously you also need the backup of people who DO know a lot about all the detailed things as well, to actually make it work. I wouldn’t want my mechanic to just know about spark plugs, but I would certainly want the spark plug maker he buys them from to know EVERYTHING about spark plugs.

  2. I think that one of the challenges is that our understanding of the universe is at such a detailed level, that a lifetimes work can be spent on the smallest detail.<BR/><BR/>In my humble opinion, we need to start training generalists. People who’s life’s work is to look aththe big picture.

  3. So true you Tsyko.<BR/><BR/>I saw a show on something like the Discover Channel where two brothers had gone into so completely different lines of work, or so they thought.<BR/><BR/>Now this story could be completely wrong, but it went something like this…<BR/><BR/>One brother was an eye doctor, and one a computer scientist. One day they were at a family gathering when the eye doctor brought up a problem with one of his patience. They both sat discussing it and soon found themselves working together on this problem.<BR/><BR/>You see, the brother who worked in computers brought his knowledge of how computers "see" and the eye doctor was able to apply this research into making his patience see once again!<BR/><BR/>Without these two brothers getting together this breakthrough may still be unknown to us.<BR/><BR/>I think this plays into what the Duk was saying. By understanding a larger chunk of the universe we can unravel more of its secrets.

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