There was a heavy frost on the car because I had forgotten to park it in the garage on the cold but clear night. As we made our short drive to school, I thought I would quiz her about the science of why the car frosts over on clear nights but not the cloudy ones. So, I asked her – do you know what caused the car windows and the grass to frost over last night? Through her half sleepy state, totally not in the mood for science, she said
Dad. Don’t you know that frost is created to cover the soft plants at night – it is their warm blanket to protect them from heavy snows?
My first reaction was one of total surprise, and I asked – where did you get That? Without batting an eyelid (or was it a silvery wing?) she replied – “Dad. I got that from Tinker Bell. Did you forget about her?” In that instant, I was even more flummoxed. So, I mumbled something about dew point, condensation, water vapor in the air and how water droplets form on the outside of a cold glass of water. So much for science!
Yes. I had the scientific answer, and I was trying to use a real-world observation to teach her about the value of arriving at the truth through science. And yet, her answer, inspired by art and imagination, was equally, if not more beautiful. Don’t you think? The search for truth and understanding has inspired scientists, their experiments, and a lot of scientific research over the past few centuries since the renaissance. Science has even made inroads into how humans perceive the truth.
How do we define truth, how do our brains process it and why do we fight over it? What does it look like in our brains when we process the truth?
Our brain is the processing centers for our senses. The inputs and sensations that our senses receive, are converted into perceptions by the brain. Over time, our sensations and perceptions form memories related to the events that we have experienced. For example, the first time I walk a new trail in the forest, I am creating a new memory. My mind learns some new truths about where the trail narrows or widens, where the river forms a sweeping arc, where the horses cross from one bank to another, and more.
The next time I walk the same trail, the truths about the path get verified through the repetition of sensation and perception in the mind. Verification means that I begin to trust the path and my walk. When I learn to trust myself, I open my heart and mind to form a new pathway for truth. Science has shown that when we learn new things by walking new paths, new grooves are literally being cut into our brain. Our new learnings increase our willingness to trust others who have walked their own paths and discovered new scientific truths.
And yet, science and scientists are often not enough by themselves to convey the truth. Science often needs the support of art and artists to infuse truths into the depths of our lives. We may read about the science behind making the perfect cup of tea – the exact amount of tea to use per cup, the ideal temperature of water to use, and so on. Beyond the science, it is the art of sensing and perceiving the tea experience that creates new truths for us. The warmth of the cup against our palms, the steam that rises as it floods fragrance into our nostrils, the first sip that awakens us and the senses of those that we sit around the table with.
Immense is the power of personal truth when manifested by the confluence of science and art. Science also says that we are more apt to accept others’ truth when delivered to us by the people, communities, and institutions that we trust. Leave it for science to make it easy for me to verify my daughter’s truth that a coat of frost keeps the warm fairy’s wings safe while in the cold.
Yes. Sometimes, new truths can travel on iridescent, translucent wings flecked with a light frost of imagination. Who knew!
P.S. Join us Sunday March 8 2020 at 9am ET / 630pm India as we gather in #SpiritChat on twitter to talk about the Art and Science of Truth. Bring your wings, and your imagination, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, and discover some new truths. Namaste – @AjmaniK
”Tinker Bell by A. Ajmani” © 2020