A Colby Community Web Site

Author: Mitchell Hernandez (Page 1 of 2)

Science and Democracy

Science should be governed by experts, however it is not entirely due to the high demand of intellectual capacity. Experts in the field of science are trained in their specific area of study. It would not make sense for someone with no knowledge of biology to be in charge of a biology lab, for instance. These experts may be highly intelligent, however they will be governing their own fields simply because of their knowledge of the material, as well as ability to perform in research in efficient ways.

Science for the People is an idea that suggests that scientists should perform studies with the intention of bettering society. An example of this is testing the air quality in a city or town, then coming up with different methods for helping to fix the problem of air pollution. This is truly Science for the People, because the main goal of the study is to better the people in the community, both scientists and non-scientists alike. I agree with the general direction of making science useful and accessible for everyday people’s concerns. When practicing science, one must produce a hypothesis and then perform experiments in an attempt to accept or refute their hypothesis. If the hypothesis is refuted, then the scientist must go back and review the experiment, performing it again with the intention of getting different or better data.

The experiments performed can affect many more people than just the lab group. There are countless scientists all over the world who are currently partaking in ground-breaking research to solve problems of today’s world. Cancer research, space travel and Martian planning, and cleaner and more efficient sources of energy are all examples of research being performed that will largely beneficial to the general population. If the scientists studying these topics were to never share their findings or research with the public, then everything they just worked for would go to waste. It is by sharing their findings that scientists are able to become successful in their fields, as well as helpful in saving money, our future, or even human lives.

Gender and Science

The scientific community has been dominated largely by men. Many of the most famous scientists from history are male, however there are many female scientists who do not always get the same attention as others. These female scientists include Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, and many others. All of these women had a large role in contributing to our understanding of science today.

Science used to be a field participated in exclusively by men. Women were not allowed to learn science even at all female universities, as it was believed that the best scientists would end up being men anyways. During the war effort, many of the men were soldiers in the army. During times like this, women were encouraged to take on many of the roles that men had been doing to help the war effort run smoothly. These jobs were rarely scientists, however, as the smartest scientists in their fields were obviously better off conducting research rather than fighting in the army. After the war, women went back to their lower paying jobs that they had before, however now the knowledge was in the air that they could perform any job just as well as the men could.

Science has recently become a more coed field of study, with female scientists being much more common today than they were in the twentieth century. Even though this is the case, there is still not an even split between genders in the scientific world. An example that I have seen even in my own life is a lack of women in physics classes. In high school senior year I was taking AP Physics. The class had around twenty kids, however only three of them were girls. Even in college right now I am taking a course in Astrophysics, and only two out of the fifteen or so students in the class are female. This shows that even though the situation has gotten better when it comes to women in science, we still have a long way to go before there are truly equal numbers of each gender.

Wars and Their Transformation of Science and Technology

Global wars have transformed science and technology in the United States as well as in other countries. A major scientific issue that came about specifically in the World Wars was nuclear and particle physics. This is the study of atoms and their parts. It was believed that because of the mass-energy equivalence (E=mc^2) then a bomb could be made by splitting the nucleus of an atom. This later became known as the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project was the group working to design and build such a weapon, and they had a team of some of the smartest people in America at the time working to create this bomb. As we know from  World War II, this project was successful in creating and using this weapon of mass destruction.

When a scientist is put in charge of building such a creation,  they must question more than just how to build the weapon. Once a weapon is built, then there is the obviousness that it will be used to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent people. This was the case with the atomic bomb. Albert Einstein, who first alerted the president of the idea of an atomic bomb, later came to regret his decision when he witnessed the destruction and devastation it caused to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although this was a destructive and deadly project, the principles underlying the A-bomb’s creation helped to swiftly progress the field of physics and chemistry. Giant leaps were made in the study of quantum mechanics and particle physics, and these findings were due in large part to the need for knowledge and weaponry during the global wars.

Along with the wars there was also a space race across many nations, including the United States and Russia. Previously, Russia had been able to send the first man into space in a low-Earth orbit around the planet. This made a Russian the first man into space. The United States were not out of the race, however, and they saw the moon as the big end-goal to determine which country was truly at the top of the technological pyramid. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969 it solidified the USA’s title of having the first men on the moon. During this time period, major government funding was being pumped into science and technology, as well as NASA and the space program. Since these global wars funding for these areas has been diminishing, however organizations such as NASA have been continuing their space exploration, and there have been major findings even since these wars which proves that science and technology are still thriving in the United States and across the globe.

Research Proposal

Question: Is going into space crucial for scientific development? If so, how could this interstellar research help to better science, technology, and society as a whole?

Thesis: Researching outside of our planet is crucial for scientific development, as the knowledge and information that we gain from interstellar research will help to improve technology and society back on Earth.

Paragraph/Idea 1: Scientific research in general helps to better our understanding of ourselves, as well as the world around us. When performing research, scientists must ask a question to start, and then their thesis or hypothesis is in response to that question. Once they have a hypothesis then they are ready to start making observations, or performing the lab to collect data. The data that is taken during these labs is later analyzed, and certain conclusions can be made regarding the initial question or hypothesis. Sometimes, however, the hypothesis will be refuted by the data, in which case another study must be performed to fix the lab and collect accurate findings. This overall process of performing the labs and collecting data has led to our entire understanding of the universe and the things it contains.

 

Paragraph/Idea 2: From the beginning of the space race, people have been fascinated with the universe outside of our planet. The initial race to the moon held audiences captive for hours, and inspired entire generations of scientists. Many kids wanted to take up the study of science after watching men land on the moon in 1969. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong have become national heroes, and they are looked up to even today for their bravery and curiosity, as well as their passion for bettering our understanding of the universe. Men like this, as well as all of the astronauts who have come before and after them have helped to pave the way for space exploration. This idea of leaving Earth and travelling to new worlds has always fascinated me, and has fueled my love of physics and astronomy. There are so many parts of our universe that are yet to be studied, and the only way to do so is by continuing our research, and creating bigger and better telescopes that are capable of unveiling the secrets hidden in the cosmos.

 

Paragraph/Idea 3: The knowledge that we obtain from studying our galaxy and the universe around helps to improve science, technology, and society back on Earth. Science is improved because we learn about new phenomena that can affect even our planet. An example of new phenomena being observed is when scientists were able to observe gravitational waves for the first time. Previously, these waves were only a theory, and there had been no way of directly finding or measuring such breathtaking phenomena. With the improvement of new technology comes new findings, however, and the collision of two black holes millions of lightyears away was able to be observed and studied back on Earth. This was able to confirm the theories that had already existed, and it also led to new questions that must now be studied more in depth in the future.

Many times throughout history, technology has been improved or developed through the need for its use in space. Technologies such as this include camera phones, scratch resistant lenses, freeze-dried food, and many more. When going into space, cameras are required to observe astronauts performing their required tasks. Since the shuttles taken into space must be as light as possible, cameras were designed to be incredibly small and compact. These small cameras led to the type found in our cell phones, which must be small in order to fit into the palm of our hands. Scratch resistant lenses came about through the desired need for astronauts to be able to look out the window during flight. In order for this to be the case, glass was designed to withstand the effects of being in a vacuum, as well as being constantly bombarded by high-speed particles hurtling through space. This newly designed glass can now be seen in many types of glasses, making them stronger for everyday wear. Finally, freeze-dried food is the easiest to store when going on long trips into space, and this food can now be found in supermarkets worldwide for a source of a quick snack. Space travel has influenced the designs of many other products and companies, and its impacts can be seen worldwide in our society, technology, and culture as a whole.

Sources:

https://planetsave.com/2009/07/26/top-5-reasons-why-space-exploration-is-important-for-the-world/

https://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/Why_We_01pt1.html

https://www.space.com/2481-space-exploration-important-united-states.html

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/infographics/infographic.view.php?id=11358

 

Scientific Knowledge and Culture

Scientific knowledge is separate from culture, however it does not have any special status. Science differs from culture simply in the research aspect of it. In the scientific world, research is a major aspect in every field of study. When performing research, a scientist must design a hypothesis and experiment to determine some natural phenomenon or how it works. This simple act alone of designing an experiment is what separates science from cultural aspects. The data collected by scientists, as well as the conclusions they reach connect them to the cultural and non-scientific world, however. The results of certain experiments are shared with the general population, which is the bridge between science and non-science cultures. These conclusions that are reached by certain scientists are shared, and they can affect the way people all over the world perceive our universe. The findings can also impact people’s beliefs, and the way they view the world around them.

An example of this is when astronomers are searching for new planets or exoplanets. The scientists are doing research, scouring the night sky via telescope to search for any signs of new stars that may have planets orbiting them. Once a new star has been located, then scientists check the star’s “habitable zone”. This is simply a region of space close enough to the star so that the planet will not be too hot or too cold for life to possibly form. Once a planet is discovered to be in this zone, then the planet itself is studied. If the planet seems to have characteristics similar to Earth, such as the same size and atmosphere, as well as the possibility of water, then it can be determined that there may be life on this far-away planet. Astronomers have found countless planets located in the habitable regions of their stars, however they are all much too far to reach with the technology we have now here on Earth.

Once planets such as Kepler-186f have been discovered, then scientists can share their discovery with the public, showing how life on other planets is entirely possible. This was the first exoplanet that was discovered and resembled Earth, with its location in the habitable zone and its rocky surface. When people learn of planets possibly like our own that may be able to host life, it can completely alter their perspective of the universe. Scientists are constantly able to challenge our idea of the impossible, and research being performed today holds no exception. The bridge created by scientists help to unify the scientific world with the non-scientific, which demonstrates the idea of two cultures coming together to understand and appreciate general knowledge. This knowledge affects the entire population of people on Earth, so it only makes sense for many different people in many different areas of study to be informed on these new ideas and discoveries.

Legacies of the Darwinian Evolution

The Darwinian Evolution tells us about the struggles that scientists faced in the past, as well as some struggles that are still being faced in the present. Charles Darwin was on the Beagle expedition, which landed at the Galápagos Islands. Here, he was able to observe many new species which people had never seen back in England. It was on these islands where he made observations and formed a theory of evolution that would forever revolutionize the way we see creatures, as well as ourselves.

While on the islands, Darwin observed many different kinds of finches. He noticed that depending on which island the birds were located on, they shared different characteristics. Some finches had thick, shorter beaks, which would have been used to eat nuts and other large, harder foods. On other islands, he observed finches with smaller beaks, used for eating seeds and smaller foods that were located only on that island. From these observations, as well as the data he collected from many other creatures, Darwin concluded that these finches must have all shared a common ancestor. He believed that there was an original species of finch that started living on the island. Some finches made their way to other islands, where there were different climates and food sources. The finches that had mutations, such as a smaller beak, would be more adapted to eating the seeds of the new islands, while the other finches with larger beaks would eventually starve.

This brings up the idea of “survival of the fittest”, which suggests that the animals with mutations best suited for their environments would outlive the others of their species. Eventually, only the finches with the smaller beaks would live long enough to produce offspring, and these offspring would share the useful physical traits of their parents. Soon enough, an entirely new species of finch would be found on the island, and the ones with larger beaks would be found on the island where more nuts and large foods were located.

Darwin hypothesized that since these birds evolved from a common ancestor, it could most likely be concluded that even humans had a common ancestor, and eventually evolved into the people that we see today. This idea went against the church, however. The idea of evolution, and not that one god created each creature at the same time, went against religious beliefs of the church, and for this reason Darwin was hesitant as to whether he should publish his findings. He ends up doing so in a book called Origin of Species, and this book would forever change what we believe about species and their ancestors.

Even today, scientists have fears when it comes to publishing their findings, as they may go against what is commonly perceived to be true. Today, scientists must get over their fear of the backlash that they may receive, and publicize their findings so that the general public may become informed as to the research that is being performed. Once the new knowledge is out in the open, it may change our entire perception of the universe, just like Darwin did when he published his findings in the 1800s.

« Older posts

© 2024 ST112 A Fall 2018

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑