Posts tagged "still talking when there's science to do"
- Q: Do you have any good hookup stories?
- A: Well, I'm sort of ordinary and monogamous, so my hookup stories are sort of bland. They're something like "I dated her for a while, and then we had sex. At home." That's pretty much my experience. There's one that's sort of interesting and funny, but it's sort of embarassing. There was a girl who wrote a post on Craigslist, and she said that she was going to Biosphere, and she only had room for one person to be there on her conjugal visits. The Biosphere is a terrarium out in the middle of the desert whose atmosphere is supposed to recreate Earth's. Scientists live there for about six months, doing experiments on sustainablity.
- Q: Did you meet her?
- A: Yeah. She'd written, "Write what you'll do in our conjugal visit, and I will pick the best." I thought that this sounded hilarious and awesome, and I'm not really thinking anything at all about this girl. I'm thinking to myself, "I have a chance to go to Biosphere!" I'm a huge nerd, so this seems really sweet and I'm excited by science. So, I write this kind of jokey, funny, half-bodice-ripper-novel-half-dorky-environmental thing. She writes back to me and says "You win! You're really funny!" I think to myself "Yes! I'm going to Biosphere!" So, I meet her for a drink — and I won't say anything about her, but she seemed nice enough — and we're chatting and things are going well. I'm eventually like "So, Biosphere..." and she says, "Yeah, I can't believe the amount of people who actually believe that!" I was suddenly completely depressed and couldn't believe that I'd fallen for this huge, elaborate lie.
- Q: You were disappointed that you didn't get to go to Biosphere?
- A: Yeah!
- A: I didn't even get to meet someone who was going to Biosphere.
Albert Einstein once envisioned an interesting theoretical experiment in which a single light particle would be trapped and then released, allowing for the measurement of the relationship between mass and energy. The scientific community waited in nerdy anticipation while Einstein set to work on his box. Convinced he’d broken through, Einstein telegraphed Niels Bohr, “Come to Leiden this instant! I have captured a photon—seen it in all its fleeting glory from Alpha to Omega.”
“I’m right here,” replied Bohr from the adjoining room shaking his head and pouring another rum punch. Bohr trundled over to Einstein’s desk where he found his fellow physicist eating a slice of four-cheese pizza.
“God dammit, Al! That was the last piece.”
“Did you see the photon?”
“It must have hopped out of the box and onto the pizza.”
“A likely story.”
“Here Niels, you can have the box. Some gorgonzola and maybe a few photons are still left.”
“Keep your stupid box, Al.”
Bohr, as is well documented, abandoned science and returned to his job as a cheese monger in Copenhagen; while Einstein went on to have a distinguished scientific career, despite that hair.
In the course of writing this essay, I was tempted many times to pick a villain. Maybe the perfectly named Almroth Wright, who threw his considerable medical reputation behind the ptomaine theory and so delayed the proper re-understanding of scurvy for many years. Or the nameless Admiralty flunkie who helped his career by championing the switch to West Indian limes. Or even poor Scott himself, sermonizing about the virtues of scientific progress while never conducting a proper experiment, taking dreadful risks, and showing a most unscientific reliance on pure grit to get his men out of any difficulty.
But the villain here is just good old human ignorance, that master of disguise. We tend to think that knowledge, once acquired, is something permanent. Instead, even holding on to it requires constant, careful effort.
tl;dr: scurvy bad, science hard.
Hey, you know what I’m tired of? Venn diagram abuse.
I mean seriously, what the hell does this “graph” even mean? Math encompasses a large part of psychology, but never touches economics? And I count 13 circles, but only 12 headings. Does the last one represent dark matter? The missing quark?
Good points. Also, the definition of “web science” is a little vague:The Web is the largest human information construct in history. The Web is transforming society. In order to…
* understand what the Web is
* engineer its future
* ensure its social benefit
…we need a new interdisciplinary field that we call Web Science.
Should we really include Biology and Ecology in our study of the web?
Regardless, I like the visualization of the impact and overlap of Psychology, Economics, Law, etc. on technology. I’m not picky about lining up ovals and labels.
I like the inclusion of biology and ecology. The web is made of people, and humans follow the scientific laws defined by those disciplines, so the web must also, to some extent. The web is also made of machines and engineer-y stuff, so we include those disciplines too, and it’s all very groovy, like reading the entire back catalog of Wired magazine.
I’m less enthusiastic about “socio-cultural” as a topic, which defined as “anti-corporate ‘open source’ values” sounds like an artificial construct to quiet the zealots who like to shout about such things. If this is A Science, man up and discuss it in terms of actual disciplines like economics and sociology.
I’m also not sure about focusing strictly on the web, when there are so many other protocols people use to exchange data over the internet. What about email, messaging, virtual worlds, mobile devices… Hey, remember when P2P was going to change the world? The WWW could be replaced in an instant when the next big thing comes along.
So yeah, “web science” is a cool and probably necessary idea. But the graphic was coming via dataviz, and as data visualization goes it wouldn’t even make a good Powerpoint slide.
…boy, am i turning into a bitter curmudgeon or what? i’m gonna get another coffee and write a devastating takedown of the new tori amos album next.