Science is one of the very few words whose essence lies as much in hardcore facts as its etymology lies in philosophies. It is the poetry of reality and the knowledge of our very own existence. Yet it is the hunger of our minds that leaves for a quest of the unknown, unannounced and in abstraction. And this is the hunger that ends up bridging the gaps between the known and infinity.
If you take a look at the etymology of Science, you’ll find that it is rooted in the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge. And so, Science continues its extraordinarily concealed yet bold journey towards curiosity, which upon evident findings and set of theories turns out to be the truth of life, the universe and everything around us. While anything that has matter gets its truth from Science, it is ultimately the human that is said to have acquired knowledge. But, the way our brains see Science is unique and perceptive in its ways. It’s incredible to realize how our brains have evolved right from the time they were just used for carrying out fundamental tasks such as staying alive and hunting. Today, we continue to use them but quite distinctively than before. We’re learning intricate pieces of information or abstract concepts like gravity, momentum, velocity, acceleration, etc.
So, there’s one thing common at least- our brain learns what’s there in front of us, or, more importantly, what it finds of significance. It seems like our brain repurposes itself to learn Science. Even though Science has progressed to a high degree where we understand how our minds learn new things, we’re still far from comprehending how they choose to focus on one particular idea during the process of learning.
A research carried out by the scientists at Carnegie Mellon University used some natural decoding techniques that identify particular concepts in physics recalled by advanced science students when they were prompted. The brain activation patterns of the students for these prompts were recorded. The studies revealed that the brains used the ancient neural systems in the same manner, while the models suggested that new chunks of knowledge in mind were formed by repurposing these ancient neural systems. It means we have at least some clarity on how the brain is going to learn a new concept. So, when somebody thinks of a scientific idea or notion, the prompt helps in reviving the existing concepts in the brains. In contrast, the brain repurposes itself to learn a new approach that comes as a result of a complex process called cognition. Cognition refers to a range of mental processes that include acquisition, storage, manipulation, and retrieval of knowledge. It is the basis of many of our daily activities and thus the basis of our scientific capabilities.
While cognition is a mental process, Science draws close analogies from it, if we philosophically believe that it purely is the quest for knowledge. And since knowledge acquisition and abstract thinking cannot happen without the set of cognitive processes, it will be futile to study one without the other. Both Science and cognition have a physical basis in the brain as they continue to build and repurpose the 100,000 connections between our neurons. Therefore, as we progress into the future with a promise of development, rediscovering fact, and making scientific discoveries, we must start looking at places that lie the closest to us- our own cognition.