We are surrounded by nature. By flying things, buzzing things, crawling things. We feel forces of attraction and repulsion. Something are loud and others quiet. Sometimes there’s not enough light to see and sometimes there’s too much light to see. And don’t even get me started on the colors.

We are surrounded by the world we live in, and we feel a deep compulsion to try to make sense of it. To order it. To classify it. To categorize it. To find patterns and rhythms and harmonies.

Why? Who knows - probably some side effect of our very human nature. But whatever the reason, we’ve done it ever since we put the sapien in front of Homo.

Over the millennia we’ve come up with various strategies for performing this deconstruction of nature, most of it driven by observation combined with thinking about things really hard. We call the most recent iteration of this approach science, which has proven itself especially powerful in describing all the natural wonders that flood our senses.

But still, the scientific description of nature is just that - a description. It’s not reality itself. Take, for example, gravity. We feel a force - a pull towards the Earth. We note that other objects also like to fall to the Earth. We’ve performed very careful and detailed measurements of how this falling happens. And we’ve come up with a pretty elegant way to describe all the behavior: a theory of gravity.

It’s here where we need to distinguish the theory of gravity from gravity itself. Our theory is wrong and incomplete. General Relativity, our best guess so far, even tells us where it breaks down (in the centers of black holes and in the earliest moments of the universe, in case you were wondering). On the other side, gravity does what gravity does, regardless of how well we’re able to capture it in our mathematical models.

Science is then best viewed as an interpretation of nature, not as nature. When statements are made from science, we’re not not describing what is, but rather what we describe it to be. It’s a subtle distinction but an important one - it’s what allows us to keep updating our beliefs and more models without being moribund. We’ll never, ever get it quite right. And that’s good.