Life, The Blue Planet, Planet Earth. These are the nature programmes, narrated by David Attenborough, that I loved watching as a kid. This was back before I knew I wanted to do Physics and probably before I really appreciated what science was. When you are a kid you assume that adults know everything, and one day, maybe once you finish school, you too will know everything or if not you could speak to some other adults and between you will know everything. This, it turns out, you find not to be the case.
I remember when I was younger watching one of these nature documentaries, during which they said that they had discovered a new animal, never seen before. I thought this was very odd; how can no-one have discovered it. I remember thinking “What have people been doing all this time?”. I knew people had had boats for at least hundreds of years and so could travel and explore the Earth. I thought: how, out of all the people in all that time, had no-one discovered this animal.
Of course, I found out later, this is science. We don’t know everything, and this is a good thing. As you grow up you learn many things but you also get made aware of many more things you don’t know. This is often referred to as the the expanding frontier of ignorance. Not only are most of world’s species undiscovered, we don’t even know how life started, we don’t know if life is unique to Earth, I mean it turns out we don’t know what 96% of the universe is made out of. There are so many questions in the world yet to be answered. This is what I love about science. We’re on the frontier, we don’t know the answers, but in asking the right questions we learn so much more.
This blog initially was going to be mainly about Planet Earth II, and how have to see it, but I got carried away talking about how great science is. However, I really do recommend watching it and also just remembering how there is still so much more in the world to be explored.
Here’s one of my favourite bits from episode one of Planet Earth II:
“People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure. ”