How science works and other philosophical musings
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Most coherent, developed, tested materials
Placeholder for Vin's suggestion
Real science vs. textbook science
By Dr. Luisa Rebull
- Science (history) as presented in textbooks may seem a never-ending series of right answers. Real science has a lot of dead ends as we struggle to find out what the ‘right answer’ is.
- Science problems in textbooks have well-defined problems, specific methods you’re supposed to use to solve them, and right (exact) answers (1.2 can be wrong when 1.3 is right). Real science is not quite “made up as you go along” but it may feel that way in the coming days. Different people approach the same problem in different ways, and many answers can be right (1.2 and 1.3 can both be right, depending on the size of your error bars). This is not the same as 'there is no right answer.' There is a right answer. But, the only way you know it’s the right answer is if you believe that everything you did to get there is right. Take a moment and really think about that. That's probably a paradigm shift in the way you normally approach science. Throughout science (and probably life in general), you should always be thinking about what you're doing, and not doing anything blindly just because someone tells you to do so.
Somewhat less coherent (or less standalone) materials
Other sources of interest
- How Science Works, a really nice ~6 min video from California Academy of Sciences (2012).
- How Science Works, from Berkeley.
- Khan Academy and Pixar (note from Luisa: I saw this as a traveling museum exhibit at the California Science Center in LA. The point of it was to show how Pixar's animation process works to tell stories, but what I saw in it was a non-linear process similar to how science works, much like the pinball analogy in the California Academy of Sciences video above. I have found that the non-linearity of science often surprises and frustrates people. I wondered if, by learning about a non-linear development process in another context entirely, the non-linearity of science would be easier to understand.)