Before the time of advanced technological equipment and empirical studies, a man had a thought – it began one hundred years ago when a young Albert Einstein, staring at a clock started thinking, and came up with a revolutionary theory of gravitation. It culminated recently when a key prediction of his theory – the existence of unseen gravitational waves in space – was proved to be a scientific fact.
On the CBC program, Quirks & Quarks, science commentator Bob McDonald explains that “gravitational waves could open an entirely new window on the universe that could be as profound as the one opened by Galileo more than 400 years ago.” And, for anyone who needs “empirical evidence” in fields impacted by this evidence, this is wonderful news.
To me, however, what is applicable to all of us is Einstein’s approach to scientific enquiry. He never allowed what he could see with his eyes to limit his willingness to consider new scientific possibilities beyond this limitation. He looked beneath the obvious for a cause.
As a simple example: we see an apple fall off a tree, but we do not “see” the gravitation that causes it to fall. This was the kind of event that Einstein puzzled over, wanting to understand the cause.Continue Reading