The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Though the internet could convince one to attribute many a quote – often hilarious and inane – to the pre-eminent scientist of the early 20 th century, this particular thought has been echoed over centuries across Western Medieval and Eastern philosophies and is as, or even more, relevant now than ever before.
Why? Consider, for instance, when the recent breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves was announced – more than a century later than its anticipation by Einstein, the internet was abuzz with a plethora of content. From brief journalistic reports to in-depth scientific articles with catchy headlines and on-site images, all the information could be garnered in a few clicks.
Then again, was it enough? While the multiplicity of available content opens new windows to areas beyond our knowledge, it poses the twin problems of credibility and redundancy, not to mention the crux of it being really 'accessible' to the masses.
Not having the intuitive grasp of someone from the field of science, and intrigued by the potential outcomes of the discovery, I struggled to grasp Einstein's concept for a while. I could not gain much insight by referring to the academic journals or books with their difficult jargon and intricate calculations.; nor did I have the time. Then I saw a copy of The Science Book from the Big Ideas series lying on a colleague's desk and immediately checked it out. In just three spreads, it comprehensively conveyed the concept with retentive step-by-step diagrams, attractive illustrations and artwork that made it easily understandable, along with mini-biographies and the historical progression of developments in the field.
Amidst our fast transforming ways of consuming information, there's a need to think of innovative ways to make content engaging for the reader. The reader could be a sportsperson keen to learn about psychology, a mathematician interested in literature or a musician curious about the field of sociology. They could also be professionals in the particular field. In attempting to cater to such a wide audience, the subject has to be treated such that it is neither too overwhelming for the novice nor too simplistic for the scholar. This is where I think the series strikes the right note, judging by its popularity at the New Delhi World Book Fair earlier this year.
For the reader, the challenge lies in unlearning the old learnings and moving beyond one's prejudices, developed perhaps by a drab initiation to the subject or the mere lack of it. It is only by reaching out of one's ambit can one expect to further it, ditching the easy consolation of complacency (or in Orwellian terms, vulnerability ).
Other titles in the series include The Literature Book, The Philosophy Book, The Politics Book, The Sociology Book, The Sherlock Holmes Book, The Psychology Book, The Business Book, The Economics Book, The Shakespeare Book, The History Book, The Religions Book and The Movie Book: each one is worth digging into.