What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? Its 42 Why Not 63?
What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? It is 42. Well, that's what Douglas Adams mentions in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. But, How? Why? Why not 63? In fact, this is just a number but it shows our fascinating and fuzzy nature to question things in every possible ways. The 'whys' and 'why nots' have always questioned our cerebrum, since the history of our kind. Our gyri and sulci evolved that way. No Einstein's elegant equation can answer our endless queries. But, Why? Why do we ask questions?
First, a question is a sentence worded so as to elicit information usually ended with a "?". But, who invented the "?"? Well, the linguists credit Alcuin of New York for it's use like today, but the earliest documented instance of a question mark was in the 5th century Syriac text where they called it 'Zagwa Elaya'. Victor Hugo was out of Paris when he sent a telegram to know how his novel- 'Les Miserables' was selling. He just asked, "?". And, this is the shortest documented question ever. But the meaningful shortest question happens to be "Nu?", a Yiddish word that means "What's up?" We are constantly in search of explanations to everything we see. Our 2.5 petabytes memory always struggles for information from varying dimensions. We are that way. It is our deep necessity. We get pleasure in searching new things, exploring, discovering. It's a 'dopamine' reward or what Richard Feynman calls a 'kick', we achieve on being with questions.
In the animal world, they have their own way to use tools, solve problems, communicate feelings, express emotions. Be it a shrewd shrew or a prudent parrot or an astute ant, almost every organism seems instinctively intelligent and even exhibits a level of raw curiosity. Experimentations with apes suggest that using sign-language, their understanding and response level a typical 2 and a half year old child. They can answer questions we ask in a valid response. But, here's the crux - 'No ape has ever asked a question.' They do things they are trained to do, but lack a question in their mind: "Why am I doing what I am doing?" They do not understand the human purpose of their actions. Joseph Jordania, an Aus-Georgian ethnomusicologist in his book "Who asked the first question?" says that the first 'question' asked by the first human, made a critical evolutionary leap separating us from the hominids. What he asked is not known but the fact is, this fine thread separates us from hominids. And, this is our human spirit, no animal has ever got.
Curiosity nurtures us by nature. "There is no cure for our curiosity" says Dorothy Parker. The unending whys of a 3 years old child and the purely perilous 2 years old passion for exploration of multitudes, is absolutely thrilling. That's what science is always doing - dancing around the beauty of childlike questions in all its majesty. Science is the result of our curiosity, whirling around the enigma of endless right questions. What's the right question, then? It can be anything. Edwin H. Land invented the polaroid camera upon his 3 years old daughter asking, "Why couldn't the camera produce photo immediately?" And, that was what he was searching for. Hamlet's "To be or not to be- that is the question" still touches hearts. The questions are our answers.
There is a limit of what we know and what we can know. But, the reasonings have no limits. There will always be questions unanswered. It's frustating to search so more, so deep, so far and still get unanswered but, we can collectively wonder the sky, questions open for us. And, this is how we are. This is why we are. So, lets go out. Ask questions. They make us human. That's the power we have. Perhaps, we were born too late to experience the struggling history and too early to experience the glorious future but we're born at just the right time- to answer many questions, to question many answers, to explore what can be asked, what should be asked. What, that has never been questioned will we be the first to question?