let’s be scientists

3rdJul. × ’08

Why leave it to the real scientists to save the world, when you can? Why let other people come up with the answers to life, the universe, and everything? The CASUAL SCIENTIST can save the world while lying awake in bed or while sitting on the train. Use the MENTAL EXPERIMENT to figure out how to stop global warming, how to cure cancer, how to sequence DNA, how to make friends and influence people.

ste-018mental03 - 2 minute sound clip where Dr Ilyr Topalli discusses the most famous casual scientist and his daring mental experiment:

Do you trust scientists? A casual scientist is a person who tries to figure out for themselves how the world works. We can all be casual scietists, it doesn’t take extra time it just requires some confidence and attitude. The confidence to ask questions (of yourself, others, the world) and the attitude to follow through (to not be scared of the answers). The sources for the information presented below are Casual Scientists.

The Scientific Method according to PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES:

Take an unhappy rat. Try every drug you have on the rat, A to Z. Whatever makes the rat happy, try on other rats. If that continues to work, try it on people. You don’t know why it works, you don’t know the full range of things it does, but you know it makes the rat happy. This is called EMPIRICISM or trial and error.

The Scientific Method according to THE CASUAL SCIENTIST:

[insert audio clip]

The CHAIN OF EXPERIMENTS according to Fritz:

How do you know that the results you’re getting relate to the experiment you’re doing? After you try the first experiment, try a subsequent one designed to test the same idea, but in a different way.

Before 2001 America spent more money on science than all the oher nations of the world combined. Since then the funding for science has been diverted to corporations. Foreign people coming to the United States have not ben allowed to study science. So now other countries are building science academies rather than donating money to improve Americn ones, and scientists who have been working for 20 years are becoming lawyers and working for pharmaceuticals. As a corporation applying for a science research grant you have a 1 in 2 chance of receiving the grant. As a scentist applying through a university you have a 1 in 15 chance.

One mark of the CASUAL SCIENTIST is performing science at odd hours, in spare time, without a gigantic lab or a lot of fuss. One of the primary tools of such a scientist is the MENTAL EXPERIMENT. Here’s a famous experiment from one of the most famous casual scientists to have ever lived. It’s called, “What if the universe had a speed limit?”

Seth Ludman concluded the conversation with a call to all casual scientists:

Fritz: “How can these casual scientists make a major contribution to our understanding of the world? We want to make break-throughs.”

Seth: “If you’d like to be a famous scientist just take an established dogma and reverse one part of it. For example, take the idea that life arouse out of a hot bubbly primordial soup with all these amino acids floating around. The idea is that all this heat energy shakes up the amino acids, some of them combine together, and then you have the beginnings of life. Now instead of saying life came out of a hot place, say it started in a cold place. And a guy in the antarctic put a clear solution, sterile except for a couple amino acids. in a freezer. He left it there for six months. When he opened the freezer six months later the water was brown.”

Fritz: “Brackish water.”

Seth: “Yes, and that indicated that the amino acids had combined and formed the first stage of life. So if you want to be a famous scientist take any scientific dogma, reverse a part of it and test it.”

Before the science discussion I showed some films in a kind of spiralling pattern to circumambulate the idea of science and gradually zoom into it.

We decided the five forces are:

  1. eat it/burn it (chemistry, combustion)
  2. move it (physics F=MA, force = mass x acceleration)
  3. love it (magnetism)
  4. suck it (gravity)
  5. imagine it (invisible power: nuclear)

movie - how it relates to “science”

  1. Instructor - learning
  2. Wigs and Hats - innovation and discovery
  3. Favorite Car - you must stay focused as a scientist but sometimes you should let go and sing a song, drive around
  4. Financial Advice
  5. Awkward Social Situations: Prolonged Eye Contact
  6. Astronaut’s Diary
  7. Where Paper Comes From - science is concerned with the origin of life, the universe, and everything
  8. Everything I Know - what do you know that you didn’t learn from anyone else?
  9. Forever Kitten - an ongoing 10 year experiment to keep a kitten from maturing into a cat (keep a kitten a kitten) starring a “science specialist”
  10. Fable - an experiment with these paramaters: strangers,* a shower, skin-tight costumes and feathered wings

*3 sets of two friends who know one another but not the different sets, 2 friends meet 2 friends meet 2 friends

The screenings from the two days before involved me showing all the films I’ve made that have Chinese. One wasn’t subtitled so I translated live. It was reminiscent of public access shows in which a couple of goofballs talk over a movie or a tv show.

Read a paper called America the Beautiful - I’ve decided to post all the essays I wrote in College, High School, Junior High School, etc. to invite other people to do the same. It’s a conglomerator called EVERYTHING I KNOW.

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One Comment

  1. admin
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    school for casual scientists (as discovered by Seth Ludman)
    http://www.olin.edu/about_olin/overview.asp

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