Exposing the True Colours of Science

Waleed Ghayas

22/01/2017

Let’s take a moment to think about what ‘science’ means to us? What’s our definition of science?

Is it just a subject that we study at school? That’s probably the first thing that comes to mind; a bunch of dry textbook jargon trying to explain convoluted concepts in its own alien language.

For most of us math is graphs, trigonometry and word problems; biology is taxonomy; physics is a collection of mind-numbing variables and equation; and chemistry is memorizing the elements of the periodic table.

It seems dry, flavorless, rigid, and unimaginative, made up of a bunch of terms and theories that have little to no practical value. You can’t express yourself through it as in art or literature, or explore fascinating tales of wars, kingdoms and heroes as in history. All you can do is calculate the speed of a falling rock before it hits the ground.

On the other hand, when we think about a Mela, we imagine all the vibrant colors, the exhilarating rides, the majestic performances, and the great food that can be experienced at a fun fair.

Coupling an event as festive and jubilant as a Mela with something so bland seems incomprehensible. Even the term ‘Science Mela’ feels like an oxymoron. But let’s examine science from a different light.

You might be familiar with a little kid, well actually a boy genius by the name of Dexter that came in a cartoon series called Dexter’s Laboratory.  You may recall how he peered through a telescope into the expansive and mysterious cosmos, how he examined creatures through a microscope, how chemicals changed colors (and sometimes exploded) as he mixed them in test tubes, and that there were talking computers and robots in every nook and cranny of his lab that could perform the most incredible feats, and how he made futuristic gadgets like flying cars.

Isn’t that science? Or are they simply the product of a cartoon artist’s wild imagination?

To what degree is the show rooted in facts, or whether the gadgets are feasible is debatable. However, we can be certain of one thing: Dexter’s lab and similar shows of science fiction, like the widely acclaimed movies ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Jurassic Park’, draw inspiration from different themes of science. And that’s what makes them so exciting to watch.

So why do dinosaurs, space ships and lasers captivate us so much? How do these science fiction movies and series capture our attention?

That’s because they tap into two innate attributes unique to human beings: curiosity and creativity. These works of science fiction allow us to explore places we have never been and stir our imagination.

That’s exactly what the Lahore Science Mela intends to do. It will take us on an adventure through the realms of science and engineering (sort of like a tour of Dexter’s Lab); where chemical equations come to life; where people can observe firsthand the cells that constitute our body; and where magnetism becomes akin to magic.

Each exhibit will ignite your curiosity and inspire you to wonder. Science does not merely encompass knowing the scientific names of organisms, or what the equations of gravity and laws of Newton are. True science is asking questions, exploring the mysteries that surround us, imagining the impossible, and using knowledge in creative ways.

Science is being curious enough to ask questions, like whether there are aliens in outer space or why we get colds in the winter, and trying to find the answers. And the Lahore Science Mela provides individuals a doorway into the wondrous world of science.

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