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Collaboration – Citizen Sciences

Professor Elena Aronova presented a compelling case on the origins of sciences and the history of science. She discussed the road-maps and the structure to conduct a scientific revolution. She introduced us to the interplay between sciences and politics and pointed out that military sciences was what made governments funds and invest in sciences. She spelt out the role played by genetics and heredity in politics highlighting that the information revolution and cold war collided at similar time periods.

In an interesting question and answer session in the afternoon seminar, Professor Aronova spoke very highly of citizen science. This discussions was most intriguing to me as it left me challenged.  I left the seminar thinking whether i was a contributor to science. Even though i love sciences, what is it that i can personally do to contribute to scientific knowledge. Citizen Science was my go to. Aronova claimed that citizen sciences have encouraged collaboration in scientific studies as a discipline and has helped eradicate competition.

Science is more of a career and is not seen as a hobby even though it should be viewed as so. Not all that love science are able to go through school and ultimately become scientists.  Not everyone who wishes to participate in science eventually gets paid. This separates science as a profession from an adventure. There are several concepts and theories in science that need to be perfected and the scientists cannot do this by themselves. There is an opportunity for normal people outside the scientific field realms to advance knowledge.  If we make it a collaborative process, i cannot imagine where the world is headed in terms of technological advancements and scientific ones too.

Being a fan of science is just not enough. We should get our feet wet by just simply collecting data or recording useful observations and reporting it to the relevant parties. There is so much power that we as volunteers  hold and we can certainty progress science up a notch. The situation in the 21st Century is so much more favorable towards amateur scientists than before when they were not welcomed or acknowledged in scientific circles.  A revolution has began and we should reap the benefits in our lifetimes.  Depending on ones passions, whether you love bird watching, video gaming, or sky watching etc. Record data while doing what you love the most. Scientific institutions are today seeking consent to be part of individual’s lives to better their research. Let us allow this.  Astronomers for example cannot accurately record movements of galaxies and other heavenly bodies 24/7, if we happen to notice something out of the blue. Dial in or E-mail in, whatever channel of communication to make sure your input is recorded. Citizen Scientists, lovers and contributors of science. Once there is an interplay between science as a hobby and science as a profession, things get more fun and realistic. Who does not want to witness that? I know i do!

Vast Origins

The celebration of research was nothing but a success. It was amazing to see my colleagues research projects so polished considering that a month ago we were all brainstorming on what to focus on. Prof. Fleming played a key role in shaping all these projects. He made us repeat our projects to every single guest speaker that attended the afternoon seminar, this in fact seemed to help the majority of us (personally, i know it did) The guest speakers also gave personal feedback and suggestions to better the projects. The seminar’s sub title Order Vs Chaos helped narrow down scope and provide more concise boundaries on how to approach our projects.

During the presentations i visited each of my colleagues’ stations and had nothing more than admiration for how far the had all come. Each project inspired, challenged or enlightened me differently. I was grouped with Ava whose UNHCR project directly correlated to my project. During peer review sessions we shared a lot of insight and even shared reading out of class. Her coverage of the refugee institution was comprehensive and gave relevant information for anybody without prior knowledge to understand. Sabrina’s project on the Origin of news had a very contemporary twist to it as well. I admired how she connected old print media with modern day social media news outlets.

CP’s cryptocurrency presentation was relevant to the times considering how Bitcoin is trending in today’s news. Everybody is in the rush to grab a part of the profits without the historical background of the commodity itself. CP revealed negative effects of Bitcoin mining that i had no idea of. Phil’s project on Financial bubbles was also very much needed if i may say. He illustrated on the signs of a bubble and how to avoid one giving the class insight on investment decisions.  Stephan’s Lucifer effect was extraordinary.  He managed to present a scary project very passionately.  I have to admit that i went on dug deeper on the Stamford prison experiment as it seemed too captivating.  Walker touched on a childhood passion i had, trans-humanism. We have our favorite superheros or superpowers that we wish to have. He situated his research in literature which made it more pleasant.

A section of my colleagues like Bernard and Amber worked on topics that we very personal to their lives. Bernard’s Origin of my tribe was eye-opening and impressive. What pushed him to pick such a topic? was a question that rang behind my mind as he presented. He however stood up to the task and delivered. Amber researched more about he scholarship program and how low-income students at Colby interact with the rest of the population. He analysis on the surveys she put up totally backed up her arguments. As an art major Ronnie brought in her drawing expertise on the project and highlighted the origin of origin stories through colorful and eye captivating illustrations. Last but not least, Anna’s Acupuncture project was phenomenal. She sort of marketed the practice and made you consider booking an appointment just to experience the effects.

History of Advancement

In her visit to Colby, Professor Aronova touched on the three various intertwined origin stories, the Origins of Science, Idea of Scientific Revolution, and Origins of the discussion of the history of sciences. Centering on the scientific revolution as a basis of scientific discovery and exploration, was it a transitionary period or single event? We can further question the definitions of the scientific revolutions and origins by looking at such feats and their origins in modern times. A number of changes that occurred during the Scientific Revolution are unlikely to be recognized as non-scientific now given what has been established scientifically, however the origins of any scientific revolution could be placed upon any numbers of years, ranging back to Aristotle’s relevance in 350BC to Roger Bacon’s in the 1800’s. Would the science that was considered to be modern at the time, be considered modern now? Should we alter what we call The Scientific Revolution” to A Scientific Revolution?  We must look at the accomplishments and societal transformations of the last several centuries in relativity, as it is truly impossible to singularly define “modern science” without comparing it to the past.


How heavily does history play into The Scientific Revolution? Professor Aronova touched on the study of historiography, defined as the study of history and what historians said about that past. So when does the historiography of science start? While this idea and name is relatively recent, the actual practice could seemingly be stretched back as far as philosophy and science go, as every scientific study automatically has its implications and associated history attached. Why is this history of science important, though? Does it really even matter to know this information? I would argue yes, that is entirely critical to scientific study. As an STS major, I look to history not only as an interest, but a necessity of having context. STS is an extremely intersectional major, and not only relies on science and its effects, but understanding the study in a broader lens, as these multidisciplinary studies are what truly inform scientific discovery and progress. Developing far-reaching conclusions and multiply angled views is dependent on defining both what is being sought to be achieved, alongside what has been achieved historically. Using past learning supplements growth, coupling fact with fiction and producing new knowledge. Additionally, history provides context in advancement, showing origins and new origins, particularly underscoring the difference between the two and recognizing the “new origins” dependence on the past.


On Darwin

On November 14th, Janet Browne braved another Cape Air trip and returned to Colby to speak on the ‘Darwin’s Origin of Species’, her biographical work on Charles Darwin. In reading her book, I was very pleased with the amount of information supplied on the topic. Browne adds well-considered tangential information to the work, which encourages readers to venture off and explore related topics on their own. This helps keep Browne’s book lightweight and pleasantly readable throughout.

To me, reading a biography focused on Darwin himself enabled me to consider his theories in an entirely new light. While I had never learned about Darwin formally as a component of my curriculum, his study of evolution has always been present in my education. His work had always been presented as fact. However, I had never learned about his early life, his educational aspirations, or his family life. I feel that each one of these points of conversation have allowed me to consider Darwin more holistically. Janet Browne does an excellent job of presenting Charles Darwin as a human, first and foremost; something which is often lost in more scientifically oriented texts.

Stories about Darwin’s hardships, like enduring the deaths of three of his children, show the tremendous impact of his personal life on his intellectual endeavors. In losing three children, he was seeing his own theory of natural selection play out right in front of him.

With such an excellent book and domain expertise like no other, I was very excited for the opportunity to discuss with and learn from Janet Browne during our extended afternoon seminar. Much to my dismay, though, it seemed very much that Browne had arrived with a set-in-stone agenda which ended up feeling much like she was leading a book-club. She asked a series of simple questions to the class and insisted on going around the room to hear everybody’s long-winded answers on e.g. whether they were taught evolution in school. I was rather sad about this and felt it to be an inefficient use of time, given that we had the expert on Darwin’s life in front of us.

One topic which I found particularly engaging and attempted multiple times to query about in class was the close relationship between the eugenics movement and Darwin’s work. Although Dr. Browne did entertain some conversation on the matter, it seemed her focus on the topic was mainly to insist that Darwin was a ‘good man’ whose work was perverted by a handful of people. She did also suggest at some points that the eugenics movement in its initial phases was an honorable attempt at improving humanity.

I was extremely thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Browne. Her extensive knowledge of her domain is inspiring and privilege to benefit from. However, I do wish that she had dared venture outside of her immediate comfort zone when asked questions tangential to her immediate expertise.

going with the rest of my night…

In this week’s lecture we sat down with Arnott Van Demeer who discussed the Search of the Origins of National Identity in Southeast Asia. Professor Demeer focused particularly on Indonesia and how their culture has changed over time but also how common themes can be traced through the changes in history. Professor Demeer focused especially on the impact of Soemarson. Demeer’s lecture focused on two theories one of called the lamp lighting theory and the other is called the onion theory.

Demure touched on the influence of the marine trade and the way in way in which the outside trade cultures. However, the culture of Southeast Asia was able to remain in tact given all of the outside influences.  Through the rise in marine trade, Southeast Asia became more connected to the Southern and Western Asia, Europe and Africa. While the marine trade had a strong influence, the culture of the Southeast Asian people stayed in tact.

The lamp theory goes to explain each part of the Southeast Asian culture as if it were to be a part of the lap. The wick is hindu-buddist heritage. It is the core of the candle and is a main source of light. The lamp’s oil is describes as Islam and Islamic modernism and the lamp shade is the Dutch culture. Soemarsono explains that while all of the pieces need for the lamp is present, the lamp still needs to be lit. Soemarsono mentioned how Western cultures and colonialism allowed for the Indonesians to be able to actually light the lamp. In addition it shows how the culture does not complete change but instead comes together to build something new. In the case of the analogy what is built is the lamp.

Demeer brought up an analogy which he teaches in another class. It is that if you were to take a 3D map of the world and drop paint in the middle of the map, when moved around the paint would only spread out to reach certain points of the map. In other words no matter how thinly or well-distributed the paint is, not every area on the map would necessarily receive enough paint. If one were to look at this in terms of a countries economic prosperity, the center of the map could be viewed as the most affluent area and as you got further and further away from the center the socio-economic profile begins to change drastically. What this shows is that as people living in a society are further and further away from the view of those who hold power their well-being becomes less important. They are not in the focus of those who yield the power but rather in their periphery.

Deemer’s final theory is that of the onion theory. The onion theory, simply, explains how the history of the Indonesian country has many layers which need to be peeled back to understand. Similar to an onion which has many layers, each layer helps to understand the Indonesian society and how it has become what it is to date.

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