Science has its dogma, just like any other belief system. Speculations that fall outside the bounds of the current paradigm are regarded as heretical. Here is the metaphor I find most apt.

The entire body of science is like a tall building, enormously complex, filled with rooms, hallways, elevators, stairs and furniture of all descriptions. The work of research scientists consists (almost) entirely of exploring all the details of this huge structure. The overall shape and dimensions are fixed -- it only remains to flesh out the details. Researchers wander here and there, searching for some nook or cranny that has been overlooked. They are tireless. Up and down the stairs they go, along all the hallways, entering all the rooms, looking at all the furniture, looking in each drawer of each desk, studying the particles caught in the tiny crack at the back edge of the smallest drawer, looking closer, closer -- endlessly, and proudly, adding one minute observation after another.

And they publish all this stuff.

But there are some, pathetically few, who are heretics. They become engrossed in a problem and have little regard for where their speculations may be leading them. Head down, lost in their private creative rapture, they do not take heed of the established boundaries. And it won't be long before they find themselves entirely outside the building, isolated from all their fellows, wandering in the wilderness. Here is the forbidden territory, where the rules are uncertain and the dangers many. Here also is the land of great opportunity. Here there are profound discoveries to be made; radical, shattering discoveries.

Or maybe not. The very nature of a truly new idea ensures that it will be viewed with disdain by those looking out the windows of established science. "What does that nut think he's doing out there?" they ask, and smile among themselves. And, in truth, most who wander far afield have simply lost their way -- they are nuts.

Ah, but not all. Not all. Not Galileo. Not Hertz. No, not all.

Some of those who venture far afield return with priceless treasure. Their names join the pantheon of great explorers, and their discoveries change the nature of our world.

But they have a hell of a time getting published!

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