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|A Science Student's View of Science in Daily Life|
|Cyclohexane (C6H12): Chair Conformation. Cyclohexane is a hydrocarbon consisting of a ring of carbon atoms, each bonded to two hydrogen atoms. Pictured is a 3-D model of the most typical arrangement of its atoms in space, as visualized in two dimensions by convention.|
These essays represent the views of a science student. Nothing
in these essays should be interpreted as a recommendation for a scientific
experiment. For more details about the background of the author,
Dorothy E. Pugh, see
Disclaimer: These essays represent the views of a science student. Nothing in these essays should be interpreted as a recommendation for a scientific experiment. For more details about the background of the author, Dorothy E. Pugh, see About Us.
What is it like to be a science student? Why would one choose to study science, other than to prepare for a relevant career? What kind of thought processes would you go through? How would gaining scientific knowledge change the way you lead your daily life or see how the world is run? How would it change your perception of yourself as a person and as a citizen of a society that bases a large number of its laws and customs on the findings of scientific experts? What is a good scientific mind like? What kind of person would make a good scientist -- and is this really the same question?
These essays tackle these big questions, but also some small day-to-day problems. Sometimes there is a connection between the two: sometimes what seems to be a personal problem on your part may be the door that opens your mind to a pervasive problem that troubles many people. On the other hand, how does one reconcile feelings of awe and curiosity about nature's strangest aspects with the supposedly unemotional objectivity that's supposed to characterize the ideal scientist?
I believe that it's important for everyone to learn as much as possible about science, not just its discoveries but its processes. Too many people become sick or crippled, are kept from fulfilling their potential, live in insecurity, hunger or danger and even are subjected to severe physical injury unnecessarily because of our reluctance to become full participants in social and political decision-making guided by interpretations of scientific discoveries. In order to protect our health and well-being, we need to become informed citizen-scientists: people who are responsible clients of scientific services. I'm putting forth the perhaps rather radical idea that we don't need to be heavily degreed to do this, but should just try to drink up every drop of knowledge in the science courses that we do take. You need to be introspective: how do you feel about these concepts? What are their implications? What doesn't seem to come together, both in the sense of how and of why? We need to stop thinking of science simply as something mysterious that highly unusual, privileged, people do and see it as a natural process that answers a basic human need.
In this spirit, I have written the following essays:
Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble: The Hard Problem of (Very) Soft Water (Major revisions on July 27-August 21, 2008)
How Chemistry and Physics in the Kitchen Might Affect Your Biology
How to Ask a Good Naïve Question
Probability Bites Back: The Monty Hall Problem (6/14/08)
My Two Cents on the Cost of U.S. Medical Care (7/11/08)
Copyright © 2008 by Dorothy E. Pugh
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