Choosing a channel on cat television

A critical idea in science is that we often describe only a limited set of phenomena. Trying to do everything at once doesn’t let us make incremental progress. This restriction of scope is represented by a “cat television” icon.

Cats often enjoy observing a small “piece of the world” restricted by a window frame. Similarly, scientists must narrow their focus to a particular limited set of issues in order to make progress. We'll call this “choosing a channel on cat TV.” Later, they can try to connect across the different frames to synthesize a more complete framework. But too early a focus on "solving everything at once" can make progress difficult.

Article 235
Last Modified: July 5, 2018