Most of the education in schools in a lot of countries does not focus much on the concept of thought experiments. In fact, most people are not aware of this concept for their whole life. Today we will discuss some beautiful examples of thought experiments and how they have changed the world. Also, we will provide some resources at the bottom of the blog to improve our ability to do thought experiments.
Usually, modern scientific inventions and discoveries of groundbreaking science concepts are based on thought experiments, such as the discovery of a vaccine. This vaccine saved many lives during a pandemic and other diseases in the past 100 years.
The most discussed discovery with thought experiments is the “Discovery of Gravity” by Isaac Newton.
Another one is Archemedis proclaimed Eureka for his discovery of the “Volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the body submerged”, which lead to the resolution of the problem of an “irregular golden votive crown” which was made by a goldsmith with the same amount of silver adding to it after removing the gold. (though this story is contested by several others)
Do we know of any earlier references to gravity by any other ancient scientists?
In 628 CE Brahmagupta an Indian Astronomer and Mathematician mentioned it as “Gurutvakarhanam”
Humans have been adept at doing thought experiments for ages. However, the lack of a printing press and the preservation of scientific knowledge were poor. This caused a loss of information that could have been passed on to the next generation in an easier manner. However, we overcame that once we started using paper and science progressed exponentially.
How can thought experiments improve our daily work and quality of life with thought experiments?
Improves our ability in doing a deeper analysis of a given problem and situation as we cultivate the attitude of doing some preliminary analysis.
Gives you an opportunity to think about more choices as a solution for a given problem whether it is a problem in your daily life or a problem that is part of your subject study in college or school.
We need to encourage conversations between family and elders more often since it gives children more insight and enables them to learn faster. Using smartphones and computers makes people more lonely and prevents them from having conversations with elders, friends, family, and colleagues.
Now let’s get more details on how to do a thought experiment and improve our lives.
Note of Caution: please do not try if you feel uncomfortable and feeling uneasy.
Famous Thought Experiments
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