Frontier Science Defined
The modern formal process of gathering knowledge
and gaining understanding about the natural world is called science. As
an organized method of inquiry into understanding the natural world, its
methods are very young, only 400 years old, but it has proven to be an
extremely successful discipline that is responsible for many aspects of
our modern technological society. Over the years, science has developed
a very powerful and successful protocol to investigate new phenomena.
This protocol is called the scientific method of inquiry or scientific
method for short. It is based on observation, hypothesis,
experimentation, repeatability, and peer review. Using this method of
inquiry, only when multiple independent efforts have duplicated and
validated the experimental results are the new theories accepted.
As productive as the scientific method has been, it
is heavily influenced by prevailing paradigms. Like all previous
civilizations throughout history, these paradigms are based on a set of
largely unstated assumptions about who and what we really
are, what kind of universe we
live in, and what is largely important to us. These assumptions spill
over into science just as they do into all human endeavors. Science has
been tremendously successful in the last few hundred years in making our
material existence more comfortable. Because of its successes our
existing world view is heavily influenced by the interpretations and
pronouncements of the findings and discoveries of science.
So when science proclaims there
is no meaning or purpose to our lives and that we are nothing more than
biological machines here as a result of some random acts of nature, it
creates a huge conflict with our intuitive spiritual understanding of
our connection and relationship with all of creation.
anyone attempting to investigate nature beyond the existing paradigms of
science, their task can be very challenging indeed. These investigations
are usually described as frontier science. Because it challenges the
very foundations of existing paradigms, frontier science is often met
with great resistance by the prevailing scientific
establishment. This establishment is the one that usually controls the
funding for new research proposals. So when research proposals fall
outside existing accepted paradigms and attempt to push the boundaries
of our knowledge into uncharted territories, they are often summarily
rejected and unfunded.
Funding for frontier science research has always
been problematic at best. Although most of the great breakthroughs
throughout the history of science have resulted from the efforts of
frontier scientists, in recent years frontier science investigations now
face a new and significant challenge. Much of the scientific research in
the world today is supported, controlled or heavily influenced by
corporate interests. These
interests are much more focused on applied research than basic research.
For in applied research there is a much less risk and higher potential
for pay-back that will affect the corporate bottom line then long term
basic research which is much riskier but which will significantly
enhance and extend humanity’s understanding of nature. Although the
outcome of basic research is highly risky and unpredictable, it often
leads to all kinds of long term shifts in perspectives, innovations and
applications that were totally unanticipated at the start of the
research effort. > In frontier science the risks of achieving major
breakthroughs are high but the rewards can also be huge and paradigm
shattering. However with risk-adverse corporations controlling the purse
strings of research and development programs, a much smaller percentage
of funding is now allocated to basic research and frontier science
exploration. This is problematic since frontier science is perhaps the
best means now at our disposal to acquire new knowledge and insights
about the nature of reality. With all the pressing problems our
civilization is currently facing, a fundamental change in perspective
and understanding is sorely needed.
In just a relatively short span of time, science and resultant
technological innovation have completely transformed life on our planet.
They have brought about dramatic improvement in the quality and
longevity of life, as well as the human condition in general. What’s
more, the threshold of discovery has been barely crossed. The greatest
achievements and contributions of science have yet to materialize. Many
more significant breakthroughs may soon come about perhaps within the
next few decades. All of these breakthroughs have greatly advanced the
material aspects of our lives but they have done little to advance our
understanding our spirituality, our relationship to the cosmos, to
supply us with answers about the nature of existence or to give us a
sense of meaning and purpose for our lives.
In the future, one of the greatest breakthroughs will likely come
from the study of interactions between information, energy and matter
specifically in the context of their relationship to consciousness.
These breakthroughs, when they occur, will help us arrive at an entirely
new understanding or comprehension of the true nature of reality and our
place in it. This shift in perception of the nature of reality could
open our eyes to tremendous possibilities, enabling us to construct an
optimal future for all manner of life on our planet.
Frontier science is critically under-funded as we have seen. Most
research funding, whether in the form of government or private grants,
or charitable giving, flows strictly into the coffers of mainstream,
institutional, academic, conventional science, which usually is more
focused on contributions and payback to the corporate bottom line. But
as frontier science gathers a greater head of steam through growing
awareness of the value of its unique role in the mining of new
knowledge, the availability of funding for its critical research
initiatives will hopefully improve. That day cannot come soon enough,
for the potential benefits to be realized by allocating greater support
for the work of frontier science will far and away exceed whatever the
dollar cost might be.
Some who consider themselves frontier scientists would consider
it to be multi-disciplinary, non-institutional, off-campus science,
literally based in one’s garage, home-office or warehouse laboratory
performing research or experimentation or theory construction on the
outer fringe of what established science would consider acceptable. It
is their off-hours full time job while their day-time job is often in
academic or corporate applied research labs pursuing incremental
discoveries leading to ever greater profits for their employers or
sponsors. Frontier science typically operates on a shoestring budget,
oftentimes funded by the frontier scientists themselves out of their own
pockets, at least for those who are highly motivated and driven by
fire-in-the-belly syndrome who cannot find funding for their own work
Many would agree that frontier science is unfettered, untethered
and unaffiliated science on the leading edge of discovery, unimpeded by
institutional politics or academic territorialism or scholarly
egocentrism. Frontier science, they would say, is not a servant to grant
procurement, publishing, impressing one’s peers, pursuit of tenure, or
courting the favor of philanthropists, corporate titans or government
funding sources and the like.
To be sure, true frontier science serves no masters and is not
beholden to any special interest, such as government or the corporate
sector or individual benefactors. It has no special loyalty to
established belief systems, theories, paradigms or models. Rather, it
thrives on pushing the envelope in rigorous pursuit of genuine
Certainly, it is fair to say that frontier science can be
non-traditional, unconventional, innovative and improvisational, perhaps
even somewhat eccentric by consensual standards. Frontier scientists are
often the proverbial loose cannons, the boat rockers, and the ones who
maintain their penchant for pushing the envelope ever further,
increasingly beyond its normal limit even when told by the mainstream
that what they are seeking is impossible. In spite of the obstacles,
they are driven by the force of their convictions.
Frontier science is usually populated by maverick radical
thinkers and visionary revolutionaries who operate outside of the
prevailing scientific paradigms box. They are not usually bounded by
existing assumptions, intellectual predispositions or preconceived
notions, nor are they interested in doing “Bureau of Standards” type
scientific work, or becoming the sycophant slaves of funding sources.
Rather, the only master they serve is the burden of empirical proof
using the scientific method, or new inventive variations of such. Often,
frontier scientists are found on the extreme edge or cusp of new
understanding and knowledge. They offer the freshest thinking from the
most open minds, sometimes chancing upon breakthrough discoveries in the
most fortuitous fashion.
To call frontier scientists rebels in their respective fields
would not be inappropriate, for they often are distinguished by their
unconventional pursuits. They are the unsung heroes of science today,
mostly ostracized and outcast by their peers for going against the
grain. But if the popular adage holds merit that science advances only
at the funeral of one established scientist after another, it would not
apply to the imaginative men and women of frontier science, who cannot
help themselves but to go opposite of prevailing winds, trends and
currents. They willingly pay a dear price for this, but they reason that
the pleasure that may come from the contributions they believe they will
make to the advancement of knowledge should more than offset the pain
and sacrifice they must endure to carry out their vital work.
This is not to suggest that conventional, institutional,
mainstream science lacks merit or fails to make meaningful contributions
to the advancement of knowledge or that it seldom if ever can be
credited with major discoveries. Nothing is further from the truth.
Conventional science is enormously important and valuable. Its
accomplishments are astounding and it continues to impress. Nor does it
imply that all frontier scientists are always pursuing noble goals.
Every human endeavor has its share of crackpots and unrealistic
Mainstream science, especially outside of the disciplines of
modern physics and cosmology is still largely based on the Newtonian
model of reality imparted by Sir Isaac Newton. This model considers all
of reality to be derived entirely from that which is physical or
material, meaning that which is observable and can be quantified or
measured. It considers all phenomena to be derivative of physical and
material processes. It totally rejects the notion that reality might
also contain a non- physical dimension, such as our consciousness that
might exist separate yet interacting with physical-material properties
and processes. Materialist science rejects outright the notion of a
human soul, as there is no proof of its existence, and considers
consciousness to be solely a by-product of electro-chemical processes in
the human brain.
Critics of this model say that it succumbs to nihilism,
reductionism and materialism. Moreover, they argue that it does not
adequately explain the full spectrum of phenomena found in nature,
especially the rather intriguing matter of consciousness and its
interrelationship with matter and energy in influencing reality. This is
where conventional science and frontier science seem to part the company
with one another.
One highly promising area of frontier science is the inquiry into
the nature of consciousness, as well as its apparent influence on matter
and energy. Conventional science, on the other hand, is dismissive of
consciousness as an epiphenomena of bio-chemical brain processes and
does not consider it of any import whatsoever at any level of reality.
Yet, it could well be that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of
nature serving as an important link between the observable and the
unobservable realms of nature.
To be sure, both conventional and frontier science have a
rightful and legitimate place at the table where knowledge is sought and
found for the greater benefit of all. Both fulfill important functions
in the overall scheme of things. And, although both forms of science and
their methodologies are far from perfect, they remain the best means
humanity has yet devised to advance knowledge and discovery. Moreover,
they remain the best available and most credible arbiter for
distinguishing that which is true from that which is false.
Scientists, like theologians and religious leaders, can become
hopelessly imprisoned by their own dogmas, beliefs, models, theories and
doctrines. Their intellects can become encrusted and rigid. They can be
as change-resistant and recalcitrant as the most stubborn everyday human
beings. But stubborn adherence to fixed ways of viewing reality or
perceiving any given phenomena never serves the pursuit of objective
truth. Sometimes, even the most prominent thinkers fall victim to this
Knowledge procured by frontier science may be our best hope for
achieving the brightest possible future for humanity. Once fully
embraced and accepted by mainstream science, it will furnish new
insights into the huge questions concerning life’s meaning and purpose.
Frontier scientists are closing in on answers to who we are and why
we’re here, and where we may be heading in the future if we resolve to
make smart enlightened choices. When this knowledge becomes popularly
understood and integrated into consensual belief systems, it will light
a path out of the darkness and despair now upon the face of the land. It
might occasion a whole new beginning or turning point for humanity.