Science is an art of searching for the truth.
A truth that could be used for a better understanding of the functioning of this universe, documented in the form of scientific knowledge.
A truth that could be used to improve the quality of life on this planet, implemented in the form of technology.
So how does this art proceed?
Well, a scientist has two paths for a scientific nirvana.
The first path is that of theoretical science where the scientist thinks, thinks and thinks. More like a spiritual master who searches within himself for the truth. Then neurons and dendrites inside the scientist’s brain exchange millions of signals with a hope of finding an answer.
The second is that of experimental science where the scientist tests, tests and tests. The actual search takes place in the physical world, where all possible sensible combinations are tried out.
Now, to be honest, the above two paths are pretty idealistic. A Scientific fact finding process cannot be purely theoretical or purely experimental. It has to be a combination of the both.
So the actual two paths followed are as below.
The first path is the one which relies on the theoretical science, but at the same time makes use of available experimental evidence. All theoretical physics comes under this category.
The second path is the one which relies on the experimental science, but at the same time make use of available theoretical science. All experimental physics comes under this category.
It is very difficult to succeed in the first path. But if you succeed, it is almost sure that your scientific theory is unquestionable. The key to the success in the first path is how well you think, being out of any scientific prejudice.
What is scientific prejudice? Believing in a scientific fact without verifying its validity is what I call a scientific prejudice. People believed that if one second passes on earth and during that one second if we look at a neutron star, then the amount of time passed on that neutron star is also one second! Einstein came and proved otherwise! He proved that mass slows down time! To prove that he had to first come out of the prejudice of one second here is one second everywhere else in this universe!
The Cause of Scientific Prejudice
There is an interesting concept in the ancient Indian vedic culture called Shruthi and Smrithi. Shruthi is said to be the true knowledge, while Smrithi is what people CURRENTLY THINK to be the true knowledge! Vedas say that, when people who know Smrithi (or who know shruthi only partially) start asking more and more questions and try to find answers for the same, they will finally find the Shruthi !
Similarly, the science that we know today is what WE THINK is true today. In the west 500 years back people thought Earth was the center of the universe. That was the definition given by the then science. Aristotle thought new organisms were created out of nowhere! Some other scientist thought Sun to be a burning ball of fire and calculated that Sun would burn all its fuel and extinguish in another 5000 years! Somebody else said that if we travel in a vehicle faster than sound then we will die due to breathing problems. Other people then believed that Earth does not move!
That was science in those days. Today it is not. The science of today (Smruthi) is much more closer to the actual science (Shruthi) than it was 500 years back!
Another 100 years later some of today’s science might be proved wrong!
The Scientific fact finding path
The key to overcome scientific prejudice is to understand whether a fact that we know is scientific shruthi or smrithi ! It is easier said than done!
My suggestion for the easiest way to prove a smrithi, that is, to prove that a scientific theory is THE ULTIMATE TRUTH is to try to disprove it in every possible way. A true scientific theory will be proved right in all the efforts that are trying to disprove it. And if we find even one proof in the effort that disproves the theory, then, well, the theory then has to be thrown in the huge dustbin of abandoned theories.
More Experiments or More Theory?
Coming back to the two paths for a scientific nirvana,
Theoretical path is suitable if performing experiments is not possible. For instance one cannot do an experiment about how an actual blackhole forms, so we need to theorize the formation of a blackhole and at the most do a computer simulation of it..
Experimental path is suitable if very little data is available about the issue in question. For instance, about the evolution of life. A lot of scrambled data is available. The key is to try to find as many fossils as possible and then try to solve the jig saw puzzle as to who came first? an amoeba or an euglena or a virus? or if something new, if at all we happen to find it later some day..
So in theoretical science we first come out with a theory and then test it in the universal lab.. In an experimental science we first do experiments and then try to interpret the results to build a theory..
As I said earlier, theoretical science is very difficult as one needs to do a lot of thought experiments and has to be free of all scientific prejudices or the so called common sense to find out the truth that exists beyond our current perception.
The only two such great people I know in modern history, whose most theoretical findings have been undisputed till to date are, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking