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On The Web, Waterfalls, And The Wonder Of Science

Posted by Tormod, in On Science, Communication 08 September 2010 · 337548 views

education web everyday mystery communication science
When I was a kid, science wasn’t really a part of my life. My friends and I didn’t walk around investigating things according to any system. There was no method to our madness.

We didn’t really learn that much about science, either. Sure, we had natural sciences in school, but it was mostly rote learning. We looked at various kinds of rocks, patterns in leaves and the history of evolution. We learned geography and photosynthesis. Steam engines!

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The experimental sessions were few and far between. In fact, I don’t remember a single science class that was particularly fun. On occasion it would perhaps consist of some sort of expedition to a local site through heavy showers and cold weather.

If you wanted to find out something, you went to something called a library. Libraries could be quite cool, but I would be stretching it if I said they were like fun fairs. Or you would watch some insanely boring documentary on a small TV set.

Yet, somehow, I grew up through this strange absence of enjoyment from science in school - and I still found science to be a fascinating concept. Mostly thanks to Carl Sagan and other communicators who made it sound not only interesting, but fantastic! The rings of Saturn! Probes landing on Mars! The size of the Universe!

Throughout my adult life I have tried to keep up with science. I regularly read popular science books. I have had my mandatory subscriptions to New Scientist and Scientific American. The magazines have given way to online science resources. I keep science RSS feeds and flip through occasional science videos on youtube. I read the Hypography Science Forums and similar websites.

But it’s starting to feel different.

These days, science is all over the place. I have a constant stream of science in my inbox. And the web - the web is full of science. It’s everywhere. Scientific reports seem to be the basis for at least half of all the news I read. Youtube is filled to the brim with all kinds of scientific movies (at least if we adopt a rather wide definition of the term "science").

And then there’s the search engines. Need a science source? Google has almost two hundred million of them. Take your pick.

It’s all very fitting. After all, the World Wide Web was born out of a nice mixture of science fiction and actual scientific work. It took twenty years from the birth of the web until it was drowning us in it’s own ingenuity.

Heck, they even have science conferences online these days. Scientists have embraced the web in ways which has transformed science. Anyone can become a researcher with the click of a button.

Who needs the library? Well, I hope we all do at times. But I can’t, for the life of me, remember the name of a single rock unless you give me a web browser. But then again I can’t really be bothered to look it up, either.

It’s not that I want to go back to the age of the library as the sole source of scientific knowledge outside of school. I don’t want to go back to the endless trials of rote learning. But science should be cool. It should be experimental. It should be discussed, weighed, embraced, thrown out. It should be challenged. And it should give us something else, something intangible - the wonder of realizing that we are learning something. The mystery of it all.

But when science is everywhere, it becomes less fascinating. It's like staring at a waterfall. Beautiful, yes. But is it meaningful?

What do you think? Is the abundance of science sources on the web killing the wonder of science? You tell me.

Richard Got Lee
Aug 05 2014 11:49 AM

Hi, Tormod! My name is Richard Got Lee. This is my first forum web site entry, which I learned from a LIBRARY book!


Like you, I am fascinated about science! I'd love to discuss any aspect of science, as I have a broad knowledge on science, so I can discuss anything from geology, the big bang theory, human beings, materials science, biochemistry, organic chemistry, gravity, natural vs man made drugs, civilisation... Actually, I can write also about human issues, so I do not fully believe in humans being only material, but also spiritual, although I am not at all religious.


Everything around us and in us is science, including the human spirit indirectly. A knowledge about say the atom is enough to blow your mind apart, or the amazing complexity of our biochemistry and our genetics, or the amazing tensile strength of nylon and of silk, or the amazing incompressibility of stone, brick, concrete,rocks; or the amazing unbreakability of the celluloid plastic of your computer or mobile phone, or the amazing organisation and specificity of the cells in your body or of each different enzyme in a cell and how they all cooperate together as a whole unit, or the amazing speed of an electron inside the atom, or the vast emptiness of all matter, even concrete, etc., etc.!


I do not know the answer to your question, but I personally do not think so.


Yes, I remember watching Professor Carl Sagan's programmes. They were brilliant! Unfortunately, Carl Sagan's spirit is now roaming Mars or maybe the Andromeda Galaxy, or maybe he is investigating the Big Bang Theory or the Steady State Theory of how the universe began- if indeed it did begin.

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Just like you Tormod, when i was a kid, science is nothing but from books. I hate it very much because that's so boring.

Yes now science is everywhere on the web but science has a rather wide definition. The so called science share it's so called science with me. In fact, i see nothing about science just what science bring about. 

I am looking forward to one day that science become interesting as itself, easier way to get access. 

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Oct 27 2015 01:52 AM

Science is interesting but a little bit boring.


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