Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life is Just One Big Experiment

This coming Friday, a friend and I will be performing music at a bar (pop, rock, reggae).  It will be our first show together.  Our band is shamelessly called, "The Acoustic Love Explosion."  We have been practicing together for a few months.

I will be playing the drums, he the guitar, and we will both be singing.  I have never witnessed a performance having this musical arrangement before, and am curious to see how the audience will react to it.  In particular, I wonder if the lack of a bass guitar will be noticable, and whether the sound will feel empty.  This first show really feels like an experiment - one that, if successful, will spawn similar ones in the future.

Sometimes, life, from the moment we are born until the moment we die, feels like a giant series of experiments.  Some might prefer to substitute the word "experiments" with "experiences", but really, the difference is quite subtle.  An experiment is possibly even more accurate, as it implies that some lesson will be learned, and retained in our memory.

People tend to file the carrying out of an experiment under the role of a scientist, but if that is true, then we are all scientists - particularly young children.  Every day, babies, toddlers, infants carry out countless unique experiments in all realms of science, but of physics in particular.  The mechanics of crawling and eventually walking are optimized over the course of repeated trial and error.  Through touch, infants learn about the states of matter, elasticity of solids, viscosity of fluids.  Pain receptors and 'boo boos' introduce them to biology.

As a young child jumps on her bed, she learns how to most effectively generate a linear impulse to allow her to be propelled the highest.  A boy on a swing exerts angular impulses at the opportune moment so as to swing the furthest.

We are all fascinated by children.  Perhaps what is most fascinating about them is their perpetual state of experimentation.  The world around them is one big laboratory.  As they mature, the experiments become increasingly complex, and sociological in nature.  How are they perceived?  How do they perceive others?

Many people see their experimental nature fade with age.  Take, for example, the adolescents conducting a torque experiment in my mechanics class.  Some seem genuinely interested, while others appear indifferent - from my point of view, they seem so far removed from their young selves who gleefully played with torque on the playground see-saw.  Adults can gain a lot by spending time with children, as their sense of wonder can be contagious. 

I see a clear analogy between the continuous experimentation in one's life and that which propels forward the book of science.  Both grow in complexity with time, and always build on prior knowledge.  Both enjoy success (enduring relationships / Einstein's general relativity), must contend with failure (awkward first dates / Einstein's denouncement of quantum physics), and must deal with very mixed feelings (in-laws / Einstein's cosmological constant).

Our scientific knowledge will lie dormant if we cease to run experiments.  The same is true in our lives: though we may not realize it, when we stop experimenting, we stop living.

With that in mind, I cordially invite those in the Montreal area to witness a joint experiment (Rob Hutcheson and I) this Friday evening (9:00 PM until midnight) at the Mayfair Tavern (22 Avenue de la Baie de Valois, Pointe-Claire).  Note that The Acoustic Love Explosion, can be "The Ale" for short, and it will definitely be flowing this Friday.          


Alin said...

wow i didn't know that my teacher was in a band! do you guys explain physics while singing? :) that's so cool ... break a leg sir

The Engineer said...

LOL. No Alin, I resist the urge to describe the longitudinal sound waves that propogate from our instruments and speakers to the ears of the audience members.