**A failed experiment is not the end of nurturing an idea, but is the beginning of a new journey to think beyond the existing notions.**

Ask any kindergarten child why things
fall on the ground and just not fly away, he/she will enthusiastically answer,
“the earth pulls it”. The concept has become so deep rooted in our minds that
seldom do we think about the actual force or its impact in our day-to-day
lives. But in 1600s, when English Mathematician Sir Isaac Newton hypothesized
about a force that every object applies on each other for the first time, it
mystified everybody. He postulated that this force applied by earth is so
massive because of the humungous mass of earth which made the fall of any
object to ground faster each split of a second. We know this as acceleration
due to gravity now even off the top of our heads. But for Newton, the
conventional mathematics of Algebra and Geometry of Euclid, Archimedes and
Pythagoras continually failed to prove his hypothesis. Even after years of
contemplating his idea, Newton met with harsh criticism from the contemporary
scientific fraternity for lack of evidence for his work. At this juncture, when any researcher could
succumb and relent, he sat down to analyze why the Mathematics known to him
that could define anything static with equations couldn’t get him evidence to
support his strong hypothesis. Unprepared to reconcile, the genius in him developed
the concepts of a new form of mathematics from abstract, the Calculus which
could define change with equations. With differential and integral calculus, he
beautifully explained his theories of gravitation and motion in his work
Principia Mathematica. One cannot dismiss his thoughts and findings as
momentary ramblings for the initial lack of evidential support as his theories
hold true even after four hundred years and even paved way to the blockbuster
Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein in later years.

It is not unusual for researchers to
ponder over a particular problem in such depth and get fixated on an outcome
while designing and performing experiments. So when the observations and
experimental results do not turn out the way anticipated the degree of
dejection and dismay is tremendous. The question here is, is it always the
positive evidence that matters? Following the popular argument that “absence of
evidence is not evidence of absence”, it is equally valid to state that absence
of evidence opens an array of new possibilities and scope for alternative
hypotheses. Statistically, no alternative hypothesis can be asserted with full
confidence as all our experiments only help us to reject null hypothesis.
Moreover, Type II errors can limit the authenticity of significance observed in
our studies. Nevertheless, when the required results are not obtained, the
ideas should never be surrendered, but make it the well- born excuse to explore
the way far beyond our stated hypothesis.
Preconceived notions and biases can curb the expanse of our imagination
and perspectives. As Thomas Jefferson had once stated, “Do not be frightened
from inquiry by any fear of its consequences”. Inventing a new division of
Science like Newton couldn’t possibly be everyone’s cup of tea. But overcoming
dejection when met with failure and thinking a new possibility is a quality
that each of us should imbibe from a mastermind like him. It is only when
logical arguments rule our toil can we push ourselves to be innovative and persuade
us to never settle for just an ‘absence of evidence’.

oh wow!! this is really nice, such a nice piece of work..............

ReplyDeletefar stone