We should pay attention to minority scientists because they may have a different take on the world or the small portion of it that we are both looking at/for. Science education is a trade-off between getting to know the shoulders of the giants of previous generations and developing the natural curiosity of children into more formal hypotheses that can be tested. "Mummy, mummy, why is the sky blue?"
the sky was blue because minute particles of dust and/or water vapour scattered the incommmming sunlight and that blue (short) wavelengths were more scattered and so more visible than yellow and red. This idea is often called Rayleigh Scattering rather than the Tyndall Effect, because John Strutt, Baron Rayleigh developed the idea further. It could have been that Rayleigh became associated with the idea because he was better connected than the Irish son of a police constable - we've met Strutt before helping Ramsey discover Argon. Or it could be that Tyndall had such a wholly unconvincing hook-on beard that the quality of his science was called into question. They were both wrong - about the dust/vapour - and it took Einstein to show that the scattering is due to the gas molecules of the air itself and definitively (for now) answer the child's simple question.
I'm only half jesting to say that it matters who you are and where you come from when it comes to assessing whether people listen to you. We live in a winner-takes-all world where Finalists in Masterchef get $500,000 and the other contestants don't even get to keep their aprons. Although it must be said that Luca "MC-USA 2013" Manfe was kind as well as cook. I've just posted about how 70,000 talented people got left on the cutting room floor when Sung-bong Choi won Korea's Got Talent and went viral. The Nobel Prize and Harry Potter are other egregious examples where one sheep, perhaps a little better than the rest of the flock (Latin: grex, gregis, hence egregious), gets the golden fleece and the rest get shorn.
In the world of science blogging (if twitter had pre-dated blogs, I bet us bloggers would "witter") and its recent mutation vlogging (wittering on camera), a tuthree sites rise to the top - admittedly because they are more cream than scum - and the rest sink to obscurity in the depths beyond the second pageful of Google hits. Emily Graslie has pointed out that, of the score or so of science vloggers, 90% of them have XY chromosomes. But isn't that the ratio in many cohorts in the realm of science - Nobel Prize winners, Professors, Honorary Degree recipients? No, no, you may cry there are other STEM cohorts where the XX/XY ratio approaches or even exceeds parity of esteem: undergraduates, technicians, makers-of-tea and moppers-of-brow, people who have not yet reproduced. We need to work to address this because it's all too easy to let the louder, more self-assured, blokier types convince everyone that their solution is correct and so get promoted. But the still small voice of calm may be closer to the truth and that voice is much more likely to be a young woman's. Or even if not closer to the truth, then perhaps another way of seeing that has merit.
Emily Graslie runs a show called thebrainscoop out of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which features 5-6 minute youtube episodes answering tumblr- & twitter-fed questions. Probably suspecting that people who tweet have the attention span of a gnat, these are answered in an average of 21 seconds (N=22, from Ask Emily #1 and #2). thebrainscoop also features attention-getting and attention-to-detail-requiring tasks like dissecting a dead wolf, which is a little more true to life-and-death than the sanitised stuff you see on CSI. It reeks true because the overwhelming and never-to-be-forgotten smell of mammal-guts is explicitly addressed in the video. Eeeee when I were a lad, you could either do dissections yourself and/or look at pictures in a book like The Anatomy of the Cat. Video with commentary is now a wonderful alternative with huge educational potential. We'll be dissecting a pickled rat in Yr1 Biology in the Spring and I shall make watching a Brainscoop dissection a pre-requisite for my lab sections. I've only just discovered young Graslie with her engaging enthusiasm (I doubt anyone refers to her as still small voice of calm) and quonky sense of humour, so I haven't seen what else she has to offer, but I'm really looking froward to finding out.
And hey, it's important! Graslie doesn't have a PhD in Science; heck she doesn't even have a first degree in science having majored Studio Art in U Montana a couple of years ago. So she hasn't had time to sweep scurf of the shoulders of Cuvier, Darwin, Hooker & Huxley. Standing on her own independent feet without a steamer-trunk full of baggage, I have great hopes that she'll find stuff out because she won't know what everyone knows to be true.
maybe when the next steve jobs comes along, s/he might come up with a computer that can emit scent?ReplyDelete
I thought that Emily sounded so perky and sparky, I figured she must be a Canadian but no shes a Dakota girl! and durn it Ctrl K didn't work for me
so here it is longhand so to speak: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Graslie
Shucks Russ, Dakota is almost Canada, surely some of that Northern perk bleeds across the border into N Dakota . . . and then into S Dakota. The comments here seem to be a reduced instruction set that won't allow hyperlinks - so it's not you.Delete
too right re Ctrl K in comments, but merrily hyperlinking away through the annual report that no one reads and to prove it putting in links to all manner of bizarre and colourful topics hyperlinked to Networking or Concerns etcDelete
silly me: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1348313/ScentScape-plug-releases-Smell-O-Vision-game-play.htmlReplyDelete
In the infinity of the internet, any idea you've had has been had before by somebody in IndiaDelete