Monday, October 26, 2015

Knowledge: not just deeper, but also wider

As we learn a particular subject deeper and further, we tend to forget the world outside. It is equally important to widen our knowledge. No piece of information goes waste in the long run of life. No subject is useless no matter what we are professionally qualified for.

Everyone knows Samuel Morse, the inventor of telegraph and Morse code. But how many of us know that he was an artist with formal training in medieval art, religious philosophies and a totally unrelated skill, horse riding? Though an artist by passion and profession, he never narrowed down his interests to his areas of activities only. During his college days in the University of Yale, he used to attend lectures on Mathematics and Physics just out of curiosity. He always kept his knowledge bank open for any piece of new information he could gather from his peers or teachers. He never intended to pursue any career other than that of an artist but always kept it a point to interact with people from all strata of society to learn more. Inventing a faster mode of long distance communication was least of his priorities though. He was leading a contented life as a celebrated artist. Unfortunately, while working on his portrait of Lafayette at Washington DC, he received the death news of his wife who was residing at New Haven, Connecticut, via a horse messenger days after she had already died of illness. Dejected and regretful of not knowing about his wife’s ill health earlier, he started to think about the limitations of long distance communication of those days. Thanks to his interest in applied mathematics and his foundations in electromagnetism, he developed the very first concept of single-wire telegraph and opened the wide world of faster communication systems. Many improvements have occurred over years and man has literally conquered distance. May it be between next-door neighbors or between faraway continents; the speed of transfer of information from one point to another is unbelievably fast, convenient and indispensable these days. All thanks to Samuel Morse’s interests in fields out of his areas of work. 

Intelligence is never the activity of a single isolated higher center in brain. It is the sum of many intricate interconnections and billions of chemical conversions in neurons every single moment. While the inherent ability to act smart is only a foundation for our intellectual capabilities, the knowledge we acquire over time adds tremendously to the intellectual practicality of every human being.  Knowledge is the mightiest power one can achieve in a lifetime. Nothing is more wholesome and nothing can help us in all situations alike. It is a common cliché in scientific world to demean a subject outside our circle as “not of interest”, “not useful for funding opportunities” or even “what can anyone gain out of this?” Well, we never know what piece of information may become useful or even trigger a train thought to a totally unallied discovery. The ever-competing world is evolving into an amalgam of interdisciplinary. No subject is independent today. So, keep our eyes and ears open. Treat all kinds of information with respect, may it be of science, art, history or technology. May it be from a scholar or a toddler. We can never say “enough” to gaining knowledge.

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