Asking questions, answering questions, and questioning answers are vital for science education! (http://dr-monsrs.net)
Following my recent posts with Q&A for “assistant professors in science” , I now present some interesting questions and answers between you and me!
Dr.M, please tell me why should I care anything about science and research? It just doesn’t matter to me!
Dr.M: It will matter a whole bunch when you run into health problems, when new wars break out using weather as a destructive weapon, when TVs listen to your every spoken word at home, and, when it finally is admitted that you really are poisoning yourself and your children by what you eat and drink! Due to the very deficient public education about science, you and most other adults have no idea what scientists do or how many of your everyday activities involve the products of science and engineering. It will be fun for you to explore science; for starters, look on the internet for “NASA pictures from outer space” and, “3-D printing”!
Dr.M. asks you: What is the thrill of research discovery for a scientist?
Typical soccer mom: It is just the same as finding a $50 bill when you are walking from your car into a supermarket! I guess that research is fun and discovery is pure luck; it looks just like the lottery to me! Discovery by scientists means they then are famous, can write a textbook, and get rich!
I love to watch science on TV for many hours almost every day because it all is so amusing! Dr.M, can you please recommend which are the best science shows?
Dr.M: Most adults see science and research only as being some fantastic amusement. Unfortunately, none of these science-as-entertainment shows deal with real scientists or real research. They are only for mindless amusement, and have much too much emphasis on who is the star researcher of the day, what horrible disease might be cured, and how science could solve some new global calamity. Since I see all of this idiotic garbage as being a total waste of time, I will not recommend any to you!
Dr.M asks an Assistant Professor: If your university employer turns down your application for tenure, what are you going to do?
Assistant Professor: Nobody taught me anything about how to get tenure in grad school. I thought it was almost automatic so long as you were funded by research grants. I know I will never win a Nobel Prize, but I still believe I am a successful research scientist! If I didn’t enjoy lab research so much I would simply quit this nonsense and find a new job in the stock market or selling computers!
My husband and I want our young children to learn about science. What is the best way to help them do that? Do you think we should buy them a chemistry set, Dr.M?
Dr.M: All young children have a strong curiosity, and they often focus that on what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. For these youngsters, encourage them to explore and examine nature, and to learn about the world in your backyard or town (e.g., insects, birds, flowers, seeds, leaves, ponds and rivers, stars, beaches and soil, pollution, lightening, snow, garbage dumps, our moon, stars, etc., etc.). Much can be done with little expense! As they grow up they can use a magnifying glass, camera, and personal computer, all of which involve science and engineering. A chemistry set is good for somewhat older children who show a special interest and liking for chemistry; however, for young kids having no affinity for chemistry it will probably only be a potentially dangerous toy (e.g., What does that taste like?). Let your kids decide for themselves what they are interested in!
I looked on the internet for info about nanomaterials after reading one of your posts, Dr.M, but I just do not understand most of what I read. What should I do?
Dr.M: This situation is due to unfortunate general deficiencies in science education. Recognize that you have selected a large topic! I suggest that you will find it easier if you study only a single more specific subject within the world of nanomaterials (e.g., carbon nanotubes, buckyballs, nanomedicine drug carriers, nanomachines, etc.). Even without much background, you should be able to understand some descriptive articles about that subject in any Wikisite on the internet; be sure to also take a look at internet diagrams and videos for whatever subject you choose.
Dr.M. asks you: Do you believe scientists should receive a much smaller paycheck than do star baseball players?
Teenager: What are the salary numbers? Don’t star scientists get several million each year? Postdocs must be equivalent to minor league players in baseball; what do they get? Baseball players deserve millions because they bring in many more millions for their team owner. Good research scientists should be paid at least as much as are professional baseball players!
I haven’t looked at any science since I was in high school. Now I just retired. Tell me, Dr.M, why should I spend any time with science now?
Dr.M: Science is not something you have to do, but it sure makes life more interesting! Have you ever heard of 3-D printers? Do you realize what they can create? Don’t you wonder how they work? Aren’t you curious about why your knees now are causing you pain, or why some new medicine might magically be able to give you full mobility again? Do you realize that your children might not retire until age 80, and could live to be over 100 years old? All of that is science in action! Pick any topic that has some personal interest for you, and see what videos are available about that subject on the internet; I can almost guarantee that you will find something fascinating!
Dr.M. asks you: Do you admire any scientist?
College undergrad: No, because I don’t know any scientists, and have no idea what they have done with their research. I don’t know any Nobel Prizers or local scientists. They all mean nothing to me!
I tried to read about research on new batteries, but I just cannot understand all the special terms and concepts. Are there any translations available just for ordinary folks, Dr.M?
Dr.M: You are totally correct that all the special terminology creates a barrier preventing many people from reading about science. The closest to actual translations are simplified articles found in some science magazines and news websites. Take a look at such internet sites as: “ScienceNews for Students” (https://student.societyforscience.org/sciencenews-students ), and “Popular Science Magazine” ( http://www.popsci.com/tags/science ). Good luck!
Dr.M. asks you: What is the purpose of scientific research?
Hollywood celeb: I really have absolutely no idea, but I do love to watch science on TV! It’s just so funny! Research scientists must be mad! I always laugh my head off and cannot believe these guys and gals are for real!
I appreciate science and would like to help scientific research, but I am not wealthy. Tell me, Dr.M, how can I help out?
Dr.M: Even small financial contributions to promote scientific research always are welcome at science research organizations, universities, high schools, science societies, research workshops, museums, and other special science organizations. Some people like to donate via contributions to crowd-funding organizations (i.e., search with any internet browser for “crowdfunding for science”). Money-free ways to support science and research are to attend public presentations and discussions by professional scientists, or, sign up for a free subscription to specialized science journals, magazines, and websites (e.g., Microscopy Today ( http://www.microscopy-today.com ), “Microscopedia” ( http://www.microscopedia.com ), SciTechDaily ( http://scitechdaily.com/ ), and, “Chemical and Engineering News” ( http://cen.acs.org/magazine/93/09334.html ). You also can volunteer to personally participate in research projects at a nearby field site or laboratory. Last, but definitely not least, encourage your own children and young relatives to have some interest in science!
Dr.M. asks you: Why can’t scientists agree about whether global warming is real?
Aunt Maggie: I guess they just love to argue! Why don’t they do more research and less yapping? Last winter was really cold, so I don’t believe whatever they say! Maybe they are arguing about nothing? It doesn’t matter much to me, anyhow!
Dr.M. asks you: Why do some scientists cheat?
Uncle Joe: Probably they are after more money! There are only small penalties if they do get caught, so why shouldn’t they take a chance on getting rich faster? Everybody else today cheats at their work, so why shouldn’t scientists?
Dr.M, Why won’t you allow any comments and e-mails on your website?
Dr.M: I refuse to waste my valuable time dealing with lonely souls, morons having an empty life, or hungry entrepreneurs, as announced on November 14, 2014 (see: “Special Notice to All from Dr.M!” ). Although It was necessary to do that, if 99.9% of 100,000 comments to you were ads for other websites or duplicate messages disguised as comments, then I believe you also would ban them. It still amazes me that on any one day I used to receive multiple word-for-word identical messages from several different continents! The blogosphere certainly is polluted by spamming on botnets!
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