Goodmorning February

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Hitsumei
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Re: Goodmorning February

Post by Hitsumei » 05 Mar 2010 22:34

@Codo, Bene and Phil The more I read scientific papers (I think scientific papers, course material...should be accessible to all, not just universities and research institutions that subscribed to certain journals. I admit that scientific papers can get a while getting used to since the writing style is not as smooth as that of a novel), the more I think people try to use empirical data whenever possible. But when it's not possible, people make theoretical models (based on educated guesses, math formulas...) that help get an idea of what is going on in the physical world. And yes models can have some discrepancies with the physical world, but they can always be improved.

The thing about the scientific method is that it is a tool to measure reality and make decisions based on that. If a statement loses connection with reality, one has to look for something else that can better explain the physical world. And this adds to human knowledge. There is never an end to human knowledge. Therefore, an "expert" can never know everything. There is always something new to discover. But there is such a thing as knowing sufficient information to act on it.

I admit that I have been surprised by the big earthquakes and storms this year. It's quite startling. But I think the physical world is telling us a few things.
1. There is a need to implement a system that is closer to the physical world (it's still snowing, raining, the sun is shining, squirrels run around happily as long as they have acorns to eat...but human life slowly grinds to a halt simply because of financial constraints. The scientific method should be applied outside of science). And maybe Nature is railing against humanity's disconnection (especially when the current system perceives pieces of paper as something worth more than clean air or water) from the physical world.
2. There is a need to focus on building things that protect humans instead of constantly building weapons that can destroy the entire human population a million times over. I admit that these catastrophes actually gave me some motivation to want to invent things. Given that buildings on solid ground are not enough to avoid earthquake damage (based on what happened in Chile), I wonder if there could be a way to make floating shoes or buildings (the electromagnetic levitation from the maglev train system gives me some inspiration) with electromagnetic devices. I was also thinking about self-heating permeable roads and sidewalks (powered with clean renewable energy (I confess that it would need a lot of energy. So it'd better be abundant and clean) and the heat would be triggered when ice or snow hits the ground so that it would turn the snow into water that can seep into the permeable roads and sidewalks to recharge groundwater supplies. Permeable pavements could work in areas where the soil is not made of clay or solid bedrock, and it is great against potholes) to greatly improve snow management (to eliminate the need for toxic salts, to avoid the need for shovels that tend to leave residue that turns into black ice, to avoid bureaucracy and to avoid the need for snow plow trucks that can only deal with one road at a time even when snow covers a road again). I also want to design a pump that can remove some water from saturated soils and store the excess water for droughts. The reason why I say this is because after the giant blizzard, there were significant winds, and trees fell because the soil was so saturated that the roots could no longer hold on to the soil, especially when the wind knocked them over. So the invention I want to make could help trees hold on to the ground by making the soil less saturated.

Ok, maybe my imagination is running wild. But hey, I always think of something new at least once a week ^^''''
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Re: Goodmorning February

Post by snork » 06 Mar 2010 18:26

Codo wrote:...
You have to be careful, but you have no other intelligent choice but to rely on “so-called” experts, even if you know (and they know!), that they can be wrong. The alternatives are common but stupid.
...
-Blindly trust the opinions of self-proclaimed authorities and people you like.
There is the problem - it is still you and me who have to decide, who are genuine / honest "experts" / research / results /interpretations and who are just pretenders, "tweaked" research results / etc.
Hitsumei wrote:I think scientific papers, course material...should be accessible to all, not just universities and research institutions that subscribed to certain journals.
I always felt that universities - over here vast majority being, errm, "paid for by public hand" - should see as part of their duty / mandate to also offer service to the public, the city in which they reside.
Most of the universities I got to know a little actually did and still do so, but they do not really kind of advertise it. It is kind of sad that those offers are widely unheard of. :blank:
They do offer a lot of courses for "non-specific students" (vocabulary), e.g. Swedish for non-nordists. And access to the sport facilities alone is great. You know, lots of sports teacher students need practice in teaching sports, thus you have a lot of courses "somesport for beginners / non-sport-students."
You always were required to kind of get a "guest license" for attending almost anything, but years back, noone really ever asked for it. Nowadays they do, it may have to do with higher economic pressure on the universities and them not anymore being able to accept so many non-students as before. :?

The most impressive and enlightening lectures I ever witnessed was such a series of lectures adressed at everyone interested, and that one was publicly announced and advertised for. They had to use a large hall for it. :)
It was Ivan Illich on history of writing / mind / society in Europe since the decline of the roman empire. Made me understand some.

At the university of Kiel, me not studying history, I still attended an excercise course in medieval history, just to get my mind having to deal with some different input (like studium generale). Only after some weeks it was noticed that all but one of the dozen people who attended were NOT studying history. Another one was a history school teacher, everyone else was interested amateurs. :D
This also kind of ensured high standard - noone attended because they had to, but because they wanted to.

I realy wish, universites would have more means to do this, like a university newspaper, radio, local TV, an archive - online and/or on DvD in public library - of most excellent lectures, in video or audio. :blank:
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Re: Goodmorning February

Post by Hitsumei » 06 Mar 2010 21:50

@snork It's cool that universities offer courses to the general public for people who want to learn something without committing to a major.
In the US, some universities offer special programs for retired individuals who want to learn (though there are still some fees), and some universities display their content on the web (even on youtube), which can help a person get access to information at any time in life.

The seminars are pretty awesome as well.

What I was talking about was especially "access to online scientific journals" (in order to read research papers) to get scientific information straight from the source instead of relying on the news. For instance, for science direct, an individual who is not related to any research institution or university has to pay a subscription fee. A member of the university (student, faculty...) or even an alumni (former student who graduated) of the university can get free access to journals the university subscribed to (however, with budget cuts, that may be reduced...-_-). And I feel like if the general public had universal access to scientific journals, they could be more informed and have a better understanding of science.
"With effort and persistence, a beginner can become an expert!"

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