Editorial 64: Observing nature
In modern times, and also in ancient times, humanity has always tended to be wise. It is even called Homo sapiens (wise man). However as we advance our knowledge in science, more and more, we can ask ourselves if we are really wise enough to self-qualify as sapiens. Charles Darwin stated: "It is always advisable to perceive our ignorance clearly." and with this he manifested the need to focus more on what we do not know than on what we already know.
Another previous hominid, which lived between 1.9 and 1.4 million years ago in the Calabrian (Middle Pleistocene) period, is known as Homo ergaster (working man) because of his work with lithic industry. In his first anatomical features appears that he had primitive abilities for the abstraction (imagination) and oral language. This ability of abstraction is what made them able to observe a trace and associate it with the animal to which it corresponded. And this brings us to the object of this editorial: The observation of nature.
Observing nature is a reliable and relatively quick way to make the jump from "ergaster" to "sapiens". The nature of geological and chemical character has been developing in the Universe for 13.8 billion years and biological nature and biochemistry has been developing on Earth since 3.800 million years in its original shape and about 3.5 billion years in its required shape.
How can we pretend to make scientific progress without observing the achievements that nature has gained over billions of years in topics such as cold fission, the formation of elements from others, the removal of the genetic code that allows the appearances of new species that will subsequently be selected or the importance of basic molecules in the biochemistry of life?
However observation would not be enough if it is not followed by meditation. As Marco Tulio Cicero affirms: "The observation of nature and meditation has generated art" Here the term art is not just cited as an activity related to aesthetics. Recall that the origin of the term art comes from the Latin "ars" and from the Greek "techne" so that technology is also part of the concept of art. In this way Cicero introduces meditation as the next step of observation.
We have only to become sapiens to verify that the observation and the meditation have gone through the proper ways. At this point Denis Diderot helps us: "Our observation of nature must be diligent, deep reflection and our exact experiments. Observation collects facts, reflection combines them, and experimentation verifies the result of this combination."
In the case of the veterinary sciences we must emphasize the importance of observation as part of the scientific method that we must apply. Scientific observation is the first chronological step of the scientific method; it consists of a process of collecting data and information of the object or phenomenon of the research, through the use of the senses and formulates the questions about the natural phenomenon in its original state without intervention of the investigator. Only then will we be able to elaborate a hypothesis, test it through experimentation and reach conclusions. Large veterinary sapiens were initiated from contact with animal disease.
As Oliver Sacks (London 09 July 1933- New York 30 August 2015) referring to human medicine, he expressed: "In the examination of the disease we gain wisdom about anatomy, physiology and biology." Also forensic veterinary science evolves from the study of diseased organs and their healing to the attempt to keep the organs in physiological functioning to get at the verification of the intracellular mechanisms that keep the organs healthy and their relation with cellular differentiation and the appearance of organs. With this last step, we inevitably reached the evolution of primitive cells, animals and plants, from the free prop lasts and the basic circular molecule of genetic material present in all living cells.