Learning what we didn’t know.

So on my lunch break today I was reading “Materials Handbook” Fifth Edition by George S. Brady. Not because I would learn something ‘new’ from a 60+ year old book. But because it is interesting to see what we have learned since then. I find it inspiring to see not only how much we have learned in a man’s lifetime (not mine, yet) but also how much scientists of the past could determine with so few instruments. In addition to that I find the examples of science we have disproved or improved gives insight into what science we currently believe that yet has room for improvement.

As somewhat of a side note, while reading this horribly outdated book vintage masterpiece I was reminded of a professor who would give no credit to any work that used Wikipedia as a resource.  He regularly told us that we had to go to the library for the information because not everything is on the internet.  And while in my given field of Material Science it’s true (I could name hundreds of subjects that aren’t even a foot note in Wikipedia), that doesn’t mean that user supplied facts are any less true than a book published 20 years ago. And yes most science books currently in use were first composed at least 20 years ago, and although each edition contains updates, the whole of the work stays very much the same in most cases.  I would bet that books (whether electronic or print) will always be the best way to present mass amounts of information (200-600+pages), but they are definitely no longer the only source of information. I think that open source information can be just as right or wrong as published information.

What I think the real lesson is that regardless of the source question the facts and more importantly the conclusions.  But don’t just ask “Is this correct”.  Ask “Why is this correct or incorrect? And how can I prove or disprove their conclusion”  Don’t question authority/science/politics/etc. for the sake of not being a lemming.  Questions it in order to find the TRUTH.

Don’t be a Hater, be a Creator.