A few days ago, my girlfriend asked me what defines science.
In the moment, I answered with it being a desire to push the boundaries of what we're able to do as people. But over the weekend, I've come to the conclusion that it only partially answers the question. This morning, I think I cracked it - but hopefully, other people have reached the same conclusion, I haven't looked into that.
Imagine that i've invented a card game, and that you and 3 friends are invited over to play it. You know it uses a regular card-deck of 52 cards + the 3/4 odd jokers. Unfortunately, as you arrive, i've lost all vocal capabilities, and are only able to say yes and no. Its then your task to figure out the rules of the game so you can play it.
This is exactly what science is about. We live on this planet, with the ressources we have available, and try to figure out the rules of the game. Gravity is a brilliant example of a rule. Gravity cannot be proven, (the National Science Foundation are getting close), but they just seem to fit the game, so science have accepted gravity as a rule, and added it to the rulebook. Science is really about discovering these rules, and, as in any game, figure out how the fules can be used to our advantage, so that we can win the game.
A problem arises however, when we think we've discovered a rule. Imagine that the "game" we're playing is black-jack. We might have figured out, that the card-value equals the value printed on the card (with J=11, Q=12, K=13). This works fine, until we figure out that aces both count as 1 and 11. This new "rule" we discovered, allows us to change our strategies, if an ace is in play. However, discovering that we're able to use aces as such, is not an easy task. Its the same with the jokers, are they in the deck or not? Lets leave this to the scientists.
Science, is the one field, in which, we currently, are not able to define the rules ourselves, and that is what makes it so interesting. Law and Politics, are governed by rules we make ourselves, and succeedes in this, to some extent (depending on where you fall on the political spectrum). This do, also cause some problems, as one person might change the rules to his/her benefit. Nobody benefits, but the person changing the rules. Well, luckily that's not my cup of tea.
Now, I have to get back to figuring out the rules of my PhD work, I just thought to clear it out of my head, and publish it on the internet. For everyone to see!
Have a good week!