Why the Information Filter?

  • Aafiya Zainab, III B.Sc Physics


Did you know that colours are actually just light of different wavelengths and that when we see something of a particular colour, we’re really just seeing the manifestation of that thing having absorbed all wavelengths except for the one that is the colour we see?

Regardless of whether you were previously aware of the aforementioned fact, what’s important to me is how you reacted to it. Did you roll your eyes because, “Ugh, science”? Or did you think, “Wow, that’s actually really cool”?

There is an exclusivity that students exhibit towards their chosen areas of expertise in college that I find rather odd. While it is true that we’re all doing our respective courses because we’ve picked them out of our own volition, closing off the rest of the world as potential pools of knowledge is hardly necessary to focus on one.

This is especially true of the shift between arts students and those that have subscribed to a life (at the very least, three years) of science. The number of times I have seen an arts student feign ignorance in the most basic science knowledge is appalling. Several jokes go around about how they’re now no longer in the shackles of school where they had to endure monstrosities like Organic Chemistry and Particle Physics. And yes, the jokes are often funny and I often laugh along, but really, one isn’t going to be deemed a lesser artist simply because they knew the chemical formula for water. Also, the jokes are getting old.

It would be unfair to put the blame completely on arts students. The sciences aren’t far behind. Most of my class treated English classes with a disdain that was painfully palpable, and I’ve heard from others that this isn’t an anomaly. Elective choices of the arts are often met with quizzical looks, as if it is unthinkable that a science student should want to spend a semester painting.

It is hilarious to me that this attitude is prevalent. The movies that you watch, the music that you listen to, the books that you read – they’re all art. You can’t do without them any more than they can do without mobile phones or food.

It is probably even more prominent between the sciences themselves, which is pretty darn ludicrous considering we all get collectively picked on for being nerds and we should really learn to stick together. The physical sciences and the biological sciences are probably the groups that show maximum resistance to learning about the other. I can’t fathom why. They’re all closely related and we’re going to end up doing research with each other at some point, anyway. These equations are just as scary as your intricately drawn diagrams, and while they may just be more information than necessary, I’d gladly listen to you talk about genetic codes if you listened to my rant on Black Holes.

I am a science student, and as much as I love Physics, I really cannot have enough of anything I can get my mind wrapped around. And guess what, most things can be understood if you only had the interest to ask and someone had the patience to explain. Just because I’m studying Physics doesn’t mean a talk on Film and Fiction is a waste of time, or that I can’t take a walk around the campus looking at birds. These things are still a part of the world I live in, so it hardly makes sense for me to actively try to keep them out.

Also, isn’t it weird that we rarely talk about our branches of learning with each other? We’re undoubtedly each other’s best bets if we wanted to actually get a grip on a topic. But then, we’re too busy making jokes and pretending to be driven to sleep by anything remotely unrelated to what we’re studying.

I’m trying so hard to write a cohesive piece while in reality, I just want to shout, “Why can’t we just exchange tidbits of fun, interesting trivia from our fields and  be completely okay?” The protocol I’m adhering to while writing this prevented me from typing the previous sentence in uppercase, so for best effect, imagine a howler (of Harry Potter fame) saying it.

Sharks don’t actually give birth to live young. Their eggs just hatch while still inside their bodies. Ha, I bet you didn’t know that. Also, look, you now know something you’d consider Zoology and the world hasn’t ended. In fact, nothing has changed, except your knowledge of sharks.

By all means, come tell me about something interesting you were taught in African Lit, while I return the favour with a retelling of how Artificial Transmutation was figured out. Let’s widen each other’s worlds with parts of what we know and refrain from limiting our perspectives to only what we proclaim to like.


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