Monday, December 26, 2011

Journey of Knowledge

If you have just edited a piece of code, or started a small reaction in your laboratory set up then, unknowingly you have contributed to a fascinating journey - the journey of knowledge.

It is quite revealing to observe that sometimes. Knowledge kept in form of books, copied laboriously and then facing destruction in hands of barbaric agression - as happened in Alexandria. Knowledge having grown alive by seekers and scholars, knowledge transferring from one teacher to another forming a beautiful lineage. Knowledge transcending the man-made borders, across societies and true knowledge flowing with a strong force that time could not ultimately stop.

Universities are the traditional hubs where knowledge is produced. But, silently, it is also produced in form of various applications - which generate a traction for the future knowledge. If telecommunication begets business then, knowledge in that area is produced with more force. Imagine numerous engineers working day and night to make a particular telecommunication protocol work in an efficient manner. It is a telling tale of the labor that ultimately is put into the altar of knowledge. But, unfortunately, the picture is not rosy always.

Economy controls knowledge. If a particular nation is fond of another nation then, alliances are set up at the political level to promote mutual development of knowledge. Politics controls knowledge. As provoked by post-colonial arguments from Edward Said. Fortunately, that is not a one-way path. Knowledge also reflects upon economy and politics, sometimes damaging the original goal for which it was set up. What survives or will ultimately survive - is nothing but the truth. Apart from these, knowledge is also sought for the sake of purity in it. Knowledge is truth. It is ultimately the effort of few seekers of truth, that guarantees that our knowledge travels from a plane of lower to higher understanding.

Another feedback loop in knowledge, which is more fundamental, is the interplay between theory and experiment. Our sensory observations, aided by engineering advances, allow us to experiment with the nature. Theory helps us to come up with a model to explain the experiment. The model, should explain the existing knowledge of universe. If something cannot be created, cannot be explained - to rephrase a quotation from Richard Feynman, one of the most celebrated physicists. The history of human knowledge is full of the surprising experiments and strengthening of the theoretical model. Even after the efforts of few thousand years, though, our collected knowledge is far short of explaining our observations. And some observations, like the one made here can set the theory back by a century. The churning of truth in this mode of knowlege generation, however, is limited by one thing. The advancement of our observation and our sensory perception. Can we convince ourselves that what we cannot see/hear/feel now - will not appear in another time/space ?

I am not convinced.

The above photograph is an image of Nalanda, an ancient Indian University that was an epitome of knowledge and influenced international scholarship for several centuries.


  1. Though sometimes Knowledge are drive by Politics,
    Economy & so on...but ultimately no doubt it`s pure.
    Knowledge is a strength which was already in & after took birth it`s again to start develop.
    It is true that knowledge has many phase & sometimes it`s not enlighten.
    moreover,It is a strength which never be covered.

  2. sirji ... looking forward to a dhaamakedar post in the new year :)