I am excited again!
It is a book by Sir Peter Medawar: “The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice”. Classic essays in Science.
I am fascinated by the second essay, titled Hypotheses and Imagination, about the methodologies of Science and the origin of scientific discoveries.
I think this is what I was looking for. Something that might be pulling me to science.
“We may collect and classify facts, we may marvel at curiosities and idly wonder what accounts for them, but the activity that is characteristically scientific begins with an explanatory conjuncture which at once becomes the subject of an energetic critical analysis. It is an instance of a far more general stratagem that underlies every enlargement of general understanding and every new solution of the problem of finding our way about the world. The regulation and control of hypothesis is more usefully described as a cybernetic than as a logical process: the adjustment and reformulation of hypothesis through an examination of their deductive consequences is simply another setting for the ubiquitous phenomenon of negative feedback. The purely logical element in scientific discovery is comparatively small one, and the idea of a logic of scientific discovery is acceptable only in an older and wider use of ‘logic’ than is current among formal logicians today.
The weakness of the hypothetico-deductive system, in so far as it might profess to offer a complete account of the scientific process lies in its disclaiming any power to explain how hypothesis come into being. By “inspiration”, surely: by the ‘spontaneous conjectures of instinctive reasoning’, said Pierce: but what then? It has often been suggested that the act of creation is the same in art as it is in science: certainly ‘having an idea’—the formulation of a hypothesis—resembles other forms of inspirational activity in the circumstances that favour it, the suddenness with which it comes about, the wholeness of the conception it embodies, and the fact that the mental events which lead to it happen below the surface of the mind. But there, to my mind, the resemblance ends. No one questions the inspirational character of musical or poetic invention because of the delight and exaltation that go with it somehow communicate themselves to others. Something travels: we are carried away. But science is not an art form in this sense; scientific discovery is a private event, and the delight that accompanies it or the despair of finding it illusory, does not travel. One scientist may get great satisfaction from another’s work and admire it deeply; it may give him great intellectual pleasure; but it gives him no sense of participation in the discovery, it does not carry him away, and his appreciation of it does not depend on his being carried away. If it were otherwise the inspirational origin of scientific discovery would never have been in doubt.”
Is there anything common to this and the other things I am ‘passionate’ about? I think it is the feeling of creating something; unravelling a broad scheme which exists, if not executing it. The genesis of a hypothesis, however mystical, is an act of
unravelling a scheme, which might exist.
What about the testing a hypothesis? There is an aura of uncertainty around a hypothesis. And thus an urge to find out, if the scheme you have just conceived is true. Does it pass the tests of reasoning, logic and reality?
And this I think is what makes science so exciting and beautiful for me.