“Science does not know its debt to imagination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You know what I like best about science? The scientific method.
Being a simple person, I’ll give you the simple version of what is typically meant by, the scientific method, to whit: one must first have a theory, then one conducts experiments with results that must be verifiable and repeatable. The results either support or disprove the theory… unless you enjoy playing with statistical analysis, in which case the results always support your theory… but that’s not really science, is it? Damned mathematicians, messing with science.
What I like second best about science is, clearly defined criteria. If you follow the rules of the scientific method, you are conducting a scientific experiment. Like the time I got it into my head that telling my parents about anything would guarantee the ruination of the subject at hand.
“Well that’s just crazy-talk, Ned.”
So any rational person would think. I decided to apply the scientific method. The theory was, “Giving my parents knowledge of a forthcoming event will suck the life out of it.”
I conducted an experiment to see if the phenomenon was observable: my project group at a certain client’s building had been working in some kind of ex-bomb shelter/storage room. Useable, but not exactly an inspiring setting. Word came around that some VP was leaving the company, and we would be working in his corner office – with windows and everything – temporarily.
Being nearly as perverse as the Universe, I decided that move would be my first experiment… after all, the bomb shelter room was a pretty quiet workspace. So, once it was confirmed we’d be moving the following week, I called my parents, I think it was Tuesday evening, and told them the great news about moving to a really nice office.
Son of a bitch! By Thursday, they had already hired the VP’s replacement, and guess what? Like I said, it was quiet down there, and we only had a couple more months on the project anyway.
So! We have a theory that has now been proven to be observable. But is it repeatable?
To satisfy that requirement, I decided to play a trick on the Universe, while proving the indiscriminate nature of the phenomenon.
My girlfriend, at the time, and I were having “issues”, and the outlook was not great. So I called my parents over the weekend and told them that we’d be breaking up by the end of the week.
Presto-change-o, by Wednesday, our issues were reconciled and we were doing just fine! So, it didn’t even matter whether it was a good thing or a bad thing; telling my parents would cause a reversal of fortune.
Observable and repeatable. Cool. I stopped telling my parents about anything important until weeks after it was done and relatively irreversible.
But really… a sample size of two? And seriously, so many random variables – Come. On.
No. Any vaguely reasonable “proof” must be repeatable and observable at least three times.
I would not shit you – we’re talking about science here! And also, Titus.
You see, Titus had some kind of theory having to do with clear water and his bowl. Of course I can’t tell you exactly what his theory might have been, but here is his experiment:
1. Play with a toy in order to establish its solidity and realness.
2. Bat the toy over near the water bowl, then firmly up against the side of the bowl.
3. Look into the water, which is known to be clear, and try to observe the toy. You couldn’t mistake it; he was looking right at the spot in the bowl where the toy should have been, were it visible.
4. Ponder over your observation, or lack thereof.
Very clever experiment, no? Hell Yes!
What’s more, he did that experiment three times – while I was watching. Who knows how many times he did it in total.
… and he eliminated variables by using the same toy for the experiment every time. Same bowl, of course.
“Science never solves a problem without creating ten more.” – George Bernard Shaw
The weekend is imminent, and many will be enjoying alcohol laden beverages… themselves, a product of early science.
“Bob drank that old grape juice and didn’t die. In fact, he got really, really stupid.”
“Well we’d better see if that’s repeatable! And let’s accumulate a respectable amount of data.”
Thousands of years later, young scientists everywhere are proving the repeatability of the experiment in which one drinks huge quantities of alcohol.
GUYS! There is more than sufficient evidence, and it has been abso-fucking-lutely proven that drinking a lot of alcohol will make you puke it all back up!
It’s finally Frickin’ Friday!