Learning stuff at (my) old age

               Allright, let’s get science..y. Ever get one of those questions about life? You know (or maybe not), like when you’re drunk and start talking philosophy… I was in college when after a night out me and a friend started asking each other about psychology, about how people play other people and manipulate them into doing or thinking whatever it was they want them to do or think. Every answer gave more questions, and more, so we got to a point where we’d look up in libraries books on the subject and just devour them. That knowledge sure was useful years later.

               How do we learn? By asking questions and receiving answers. Fun fact:

               John, Mildred and lil’ Joe were walking in the park. Lil’ Joe kept pestering da’ with various questions, like “Why’s the sky blue, da’?”, or “Why’s the sun yellow?”, and so on, to which John kept answering “Dunno, son. Haven’t got a clue..”. After a while, ma’ Mildred got bored with this play and asked Joey to stop bothering his dad with all those questions. Surprisingly, John said: “Woman, let him ask, that’s the only way he’s gonna learn!”.. Oy, that cracks me up every bloody time.

               I’ve been fortunate to learn a nice truth once, not everybody’s got the brains to be a Nobel Prize winner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t out-think most people. I’ve always dreamt of understanding how the universe works, how things in our reality go together. So I started doing it. And no, I don’t think learning string theory, quantum gravity, high energy physics or the like is because I think I’m a genius. It’s not, I don’t think myself better than most people (unless I’m in the mood for it) – I’m most likely average IQ – but what I lack in brain power I make up in will power (I almost wrote stupidity, just to see if you’re really reading). Yea, sometimes it’s wishful thinking (especially when it comes to things I love – food, wine or books), but when it comes to learning things I want to learn, I’m like a pit-bull. I learned German from the telly when I was younger. I can’t bloody write or read it, but if you put me in a gas station in Munchen, for instance (though I’ve been there, done that), I can easily understand most of what’s being talked around me and you certainly wouldn’t find me in a ditch somewhere, hungry and tired. I can curse in about seven languages too, now that one comes in handy sometimes. Even Russian. French? Not so much, it’s a beautiful language but it’s way too complicated to curse in it if you’re a brit and not fluent in French, you might end up cursing yourself.

               The main point of all the above is, you don’t have to have an IQ of 170 to understand math, physics or chemistry. But you have to work hard. How many people you know would identify a basic solution to a trigonometry problem? Something like what’s the sine of an angle in a triangle. Or, how many even remember what an integral is? Hell, let’s keep it even simpler, how does one multiply matrices? Now ask a 15 year old kid that’s barely out of math class – he probably does know, even though he’ll likely forget it after a few years of nine to five. So you think you’re less than that kid?

               You can have only basic math skills – like adding, subtracting, stuff like that – and still be able to learn quantum physics if you put your mind to it. But do you? Yes, it will take years, and most people won’t commit to something that long which why you won’t see people calculating eigenvalues around every corner. That 15 year old kid isn’t smarter than you. He just happens to remember more math than you do because he hasn’t forgotten it yet.

Post scriptum:

               It’s really a pity that with all the knowledge that’s free on the internet we mostly only use google to like apocryphal facebook posts, to find naked celebrities and grumpy cat pictures (which, on occasion, is a good thing, I do admit). No, I don’t do facebook, I’d rather curse my friends in by voice so they can hear it. Can I haz my cheezeburger now?

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