SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Can anyone become a theoretical scientist by developing his own theory, even if he does not have any degree in science?

Krishna: Yes!

But becoming a self-taught scientist is not that easy like I became a self-taught artist. Earlier, when the knowledge base was less, some people could achieve this feat. Now even a trained scientist finds it very difficult to work in this field that demands high mental abilities and thorough learning processes to succeed. That is why collaborations have become common and necessary to have a high success rate.

I am going to be very honest with you whether you like it or not. Because we have to see and say things as they are. 

Publishing papers that are “acceptable” to the scientific community if you don’t have a good background is like having "a snowball's chance in Hell".

But don’t get disheartened. You can ‘learn’ all that is necessary to develop a theory. You need to master the core elements of foundational physics and mathematical preliminaries. Following the scientific method allows for theories to be “confirmed” or “verified” or “validated” or “falsified” through either experiment or observation.

You have to first read the set of books at the basic level. After understanding the basics then you have to go to the middle grade and then the higher grade and finally the ultimate ones, the research papers . This means that you have to follow all that a person goes through when he travels from school to a research lab. There won't be any shortcuts.

Without having a vast amount of knowledge, it is difficult to creatively connect various things in science.

But reading books is different from how you ’comprehend’ them. Analyzing and understanding things correctly is a different ball game altogether. Using correctly what you learn and creatively connecting it to the problem you are dealing with needs a higher and clear mental state.

The most important things to succeed are grit and determination. Because failures and frustrations are common in this field. There won’t be anybody to encourage you. You have to be on your own.

Giving lectures on how to achieve this feat is easy. Giving examples is simple. But only people like us who have walked through this fire bed can imagine how difficult it is.

I peer- reviewed some such papers written by ‘part-time scientists’ and found none to be publish-worthy!

Sometime back I was requested to “peer-review” a science-art paper. An artist developed a scientific theory. And it was sent to me. I was shocked to read it.

I wrote on it and want to add a part of my article here (1):

The artist who wrote the theory thought - as the full moon has gravitational effects on the waves of an ocean, gravitation could also affect DNA . To prove this, she planted some lemon seeds on a full moon day and allowed them to germinate. Out of 30 seeds that germinated, some died of diseases. One plant showed leaf puckering (I know this is because of a viral disease!) and some showed finger-like outgrowths. She thought all this had happened because of the gravitational effects of the moon on the DNA of lemon plants! And her conclusion was, gravity of the moon and other bodies in our galaxy could be used to change DNA structures of living beings here with important consequences!

She was confident that she showed science in a new light and scientists would use her work for the progress of Science!

She wrote:

"I am an artist and I became so fascinated with science, especially physics, I may have solved the question of how life evolves in a solar system ! I used my artistic intuition to work on the question posed by MIT particle physicist Robert L Jaffe: "how is the chemistry of life entangled with celestial mechanics?

Now I am dealing with the most exciting discovery about the force of gravity even though I am not a scientist".

Wishful thinking! Science fiction, not fact!

And she insists that scientists agree with her by saying: Though it is distasteful to some, scientists must accept theories that agree with experiment, not their own preconceived notions. -Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow 'The Grand Design'' page 72!

I have no words to describe how or what I felt when I read this 'imagination of an artist which is more important than knowledge'. And her adamant attitude is more shocking.

Now that you are on the same wavelength as I am, what do you say?

The artist quotes Einstein in her opening statement and says, ''Imagination is more important than knowledge”. If I were Einstein and still alive now I would have taken a gun and shot ----wait a minute not the person or myself but -- the quote down so that nobody ever reads it again and follows it so religiously. Ah, imagination - that thing that can make you a buffoon and an idiot. But knowledge makes you a mature and balanced person if used properly. Then why did Einstein say such a thing? Einstein must have thought about 'his knowledge based or information loaded imagination as a scientist' when he said those words but people are interpreting it in several stupid ways!

Imagination without knowledge is like having only wings and no feet! What will your work stand on then? Absurdity!

I appreciate the artists' enthusiasm and interest in things science. I also understand her innocence. But I wouldn't let these things affect my analysis. There is a method to do things in the 'S' world.

I sent a very diplomatic analysis to the artist- and also other sci-art project leaders like her, putting things very softly but firmly to make them realize how absurd their imaginations are. Believing, imagining things and attributing things to scientific phenomena with a half knowledge in science are easy to do. But scientific experimentation and proving things in the tough world of science is like trying to conquer death! I showed this artist all the flaws right from her imagination to the methods she used, from observations to the conclusions she arrived at. I am sure she and the other artists were very disappointed , because I realized how they took my reviews after hearing from them again, but that is what science and the related science-art is all about. One has no other go but to accept the truth and facts of science. Just your imagination doesn't work here like it happens in the art world!

This is what we call a “partial picture paralysis”. If you don’t have a “full picture” of the (scientific) world your understanding will be ‘pathetic’ and your work will be ‘paralytic’.

I think you understand the problem more clearly now.

Why do you think they ‘invented’ and established schools and colleges?

Can you gain enough knowledge and experience of a person who did 25 to 50 years of hard work in a short span of time?

If you have full confidence to overcome all these roadblocks, go ahead. But read and understand this quote fully before doing that ….

Karl Marx  said in his Das Kapital: "There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”

Image source: Freepik.com

Footnotes:

  1. Shocking and funny 'science-art'

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