Science is a tool by which we can do everything. What was thought impossible yesterday is possible today & what is thought impossible today will be possible tomorrow by science. In every work, we use science. Science is our ultimate tool. Those people who study the laws of science & devise new theories, equations, laws & principles are what we call scientists. Those people who use these theories, equations, laws & principles devised by scientists to design new things are called engineers. Both the tasks need several observations, methods, innovations etc. All these ways are called research.
In this modern society, scientists & engineers play a key role. Without them, the modern society is actually impossible. If a country has no scientists & engineers & thus no scientific developments, then the over all development of the country (& eventually the country itself) will certainly be collapsed within 100 years or so. This shows how scientific breakthroughs are so important for our world. In fact, as discussed in Space: Our Next Home, space science (a part of science) will be the basis of existence of human civilization & other terrestrial beings. Today there’re very talented & advanced scientists & engineers in the world who are working day-night to design our future. These researches are very important for our world. All these scientific breakthroughs will largely affect our ways of living. Without which nothing is possible or will not be possible. Researches in every field are going on well. Scientists & engineers are doing their works in laboratories & observatories well. But is it not reasonable to ask; is research enough to develop our scientific understanding?
We see that every day there come new scientific discoveries & breakthroughs. It is the strong dedication of scientists & engineers which show color. Each time we get solution to a problem, we get another problem. No one knows whether this cycle will have an end or not. So new talented & dedicated scientists & engineers have to be appointed. But researches are not so easy. There must be a strong educational background to design our future.
Scientists & engineers will do their own works & gain name & fame. But it is equally important to let general public to know about all these researches to ignite sparkling of science within young people. It is always true that after a generation, we need another generation of experts. This is also true in the case of scientific community. After a generation of expert scientists & engineers, we need another new generation of scientists & engineers. Within a lot of young people, there hid scientific talents but no one to ignite them. Those who could identify their talents became great scientists & engineers, but what about those who couldn’t identify? Maybe within these people hid great scientists, who know? As a result many talents remain hidden & the world lost such great scientific personalities. For instance, what will happen if Albert Einstein couldn’t identify his talent? What will happen if Marie Curie couldn’t identify her talent? Many scientific breakthroughs couldn’t exist so easily. Of course one day someone will discover all these. But those (Einstein & Curie) who deserve the recognition by these will not get their rights. So we must ignite the talents of science within those who have such talents.
Earlier, lot of scientists & engineers were related more in their researches. They publish their research works which got international recognition. But those people who belong from non-scientific background or children can’t understand the main objectives of the discoveries fully. They couldn’t understand all in details. As a result, those who have scientific talents can’t recognize their talents. Such things really affect our world. Those who were engaged in writing science books for children have to lose their scientific reputation within scientific community. For example; George Gamow, one of the most recognized scientists of all time didn’t get so much recognition in his time for writing books for children. Carl Sagan, one of the remarkable scientist of the era didn’t get admission to National Academy Of Science (a prestigious society of scientists where members are selected by strict election) because of his appearance in science programs in television. Until few decades scientists & engineers are only known to involve in researches, not in public outreach or science education. The sea change came in 1988 when Prof. Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous living scientist had written his multi-millions copy selling A Brief History Of Time for general public. He is a very serious & reputed scientist. So after the success of the book, it came to be considered that reputed scientists & engineers can also write books for public. Thus public outreach developed a lot. After this century (21st century), everything changed so that today scientists & engineers often appear in television programs & lot of popular science books are being written. By all these, general public will also be involved in scientific activities. Today internet got lot of exposure by which science education is going on well. Today scientists & engineers are famous in media too.
But how does this new change affect our scientific developments? This is the central topic of the discussion. As asked in the title of the article, is research enough to develop our scientific understanding? research is not enough to develop our scientific understanding because the hidden scientific talents couldn’t come out. Scientists & engineers will do their own works by themselves. But other, from non-scientific community & children, couldn’t know deeply about the discoveries & breakthroughs. They’ll only know that something (the name of the discovery) is discovered by someone (name of the scientists or engineers) & nothing else. But after the science education through public outreach, people will be totally informed about the discovery in details. There’ll be 2 outcomes of this – one is that young & budding scientists & engineers could discover their talents & another is that general public could also present their views on new scientific issues. Everyone will be engaged in all the scientific discoveries. This also raises amateur scientists & engineers in society. By all these, science actually develops a lot. Research is not enough to develop our scientific understanding but research & education both are important to develop our scientific understanding.
Research area is going on fine, but we’ve to develop education area. After higher secondary, it is cent percent sure that science educations are well because experts take the classes. (It is different in the case institute is not reputed one). But we’ve to develop our educations from primary to higher secondary level. We’ve to take special cares of these levels. That is to say, we must engage our students more in science fields. (Note that as the discussion is of science, arts are not mentioned here. But students must be engaged in both science & arts. Those who have talents in science will go to science & those who have talents in arts will go to arts). Teachers or educators must not only teach students science, but should also show them the wonders of science either experimentally or by computer simulation. Teachers must encourage students to research. Project works must be such that they involve methods of researches. There must be big posters of great scientists & engineers & posters of all the disciplines of science. We often see that most posters of scientists & engineers are of those who passed away or we mostly repeat the same pictures of same people. But posters should also be of leading scientists & engineers of today. Scientific activities should always be well-demonstrate.
Another fault in science education is that most often in examination examiners have to remember the theories & have to write them. But science is not all about memorization. Rather science is all about imagination. Though Einstein was a dull student, he has strong imagination which made him one of the greatest scientist of all time. Thus in schools too, special attention should be given to research, not in memorization. Students should be asked to think about several fields, ask them to utilize their knowledge of science to research on new fields. In textbooks, established facts are written, but they should also contain problems of present research. If not mentioned in the main textbook, then there must be a separate textbook which only discuss problems of science. The contents of such books shouldn’t be taken in syllabus but at least all these should be introduced to students which encourage students to think about all this. Science is actually about imagination. So science videos should be shown to students after the end of each chapter which actually clarifies the concepts. Science should make simple, not complex. Mostly day-to-day science is discussed within higher secondary level. So demonstration should be shown which push students to think about all these in daily experience. Science should be taken simply, not seriously which could sometimes lead to big failure. Some students only read textbooks of schools, not others. But they should be encouraged to read other popular books of science. As such, science education within these levels should be developed more & more to make science common for everyone. Here I’d like to say that it’s not only the sole responsibility of schools & teachers, but also the responsibility of students & parents to develop science education.
In the discussion of science education, scientists & engineers (as discussed earlier too) play key role. Today they write a variety of popular books on science & often appear to TV programs to encourage science. I think that scientists & engineers should be well-engaged to science education or public outreach. They should devote some of their valuable time in replying mails of their fans. Some budding scientists & engineers get very inspired by getting only a “hello” from their role models. So scientists & engineers should involve both in research & education (public outreach).
Science is developed a lot but there are still hundreds of challenges scientific community facing to overcome. To solve all these, new generation of scientists & engineers have to appointed who will lead the works of today’s or yesterday’s scientists & engineers. A generation handovers their works to coming generation. So there must be such expert people who deserve these responsibilities. For that, education in the form of public outreach is of prime importance. Today there’re several organization & missions who are working for better & better public outreach. International Years also raise public awareness to a particular topic. As such it is also true that everywhere public outreach is going on well.
As discussed in Space: Our Next Home, within 200 years or so, we’ve to leave our earth as earth will be no more our typical prosperous home & have to go to space. But going to space is not such an easy work. There must be a lot of developments in the field which require more & more highly talented scientists & engineers. Thus the demand for scientists & engineers grew more. Space will be the basis of existence after 2 centuries. For more scientists & engineers, we’ve to significantly strengthen our science education. Anyway you see research & education both are very important to develop our scientific understandings to overcome challenges of tomorrow. This is not only the time when we’ve to significantly increase the number of talented scientists & engineers, but it is also the time when we’ve to significantly increase the number of talented teachers or educators. After that we’ll get lot of talented scientists & engineers who will head the future of human civilization. (There’re must be developments in sectors like economics though, here we’ll not discuss all these. The details of these sectors are discussed in Space: Our Next Home in more details).
This is a turning point of human civilization. All these have to be developed more & more. Scientific researches worldwide are going on well. It is the time to strengthen & develop science education to get more & more talented people who will lead the future of this civilization. Science educations have to be developed to overcome the challenges of 21st century. Remember there’re only 2 centuries (almost 23rd century) to go & then the existence of life on this planet will be threatened. So research & education both are important to develop our scientific understanding & to overcome challenges of tomorrow.
Copyright ©2011 Sandeep Deba Misra