Gongol.com Archives: May 2010
Brian Gongol


May 28, 2010

Science and Technology Why science needs to be taught as a process, not just isolated facts
When children get the impression that science is a big pile of factoids to be memorized, they don't learn to comprehend the scientific process -- nor do they learn that a lot of science is the result of one question leading to a mistake leading to a correction leading to new questions. Perhaps it's the misunderstanding of science as a pile of facts rather than a process of discovery that causes the anti-science crowd (for instance, hard-core creationists) to think that by picking apart isolated mistakes, they can cause the entire edifice of Science As We Know It to tumble to the ground. But no science is like that -- not evolutionary biology, not computer science, not nuclear physics. Mistakes can be made and errors corrected along the way, but the process moves forward. No science need be 100% firm evidentiary fact in order to move forward or even to be "true" in the sense that it leads us to greater discovery.

Humor and Good News The cleverest use of Twitter yet
Someone registered the name Ferris_Bueller_ and documented the movie ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off") like it was a day in someone's actual life. Hilarious.

Computers and the Internet How long is a digital memory?
Our comprehension of long-term institutional or social memory is pretty bad. Aside from a handful of artifacts like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the hieroglyphics inside Egyptian pyramids, we don't have much of an understanding of knowledge that's been kept around for a long time. Thus it's intriguing to see the debate that takes place about whether Google can keep images from its Street View cameras on file, and for how long. European authorities argue that it could be a violation of privacy standards to allow the company to keep those images for more than a few months. From an utterly different standpoint, though, there will undoubtedly be historians living 100 or 200 years from now who will wish that we had digitally archived everything. We will seem, in many ways, as mysterious to people living 1000 years from now as people living during the Dark Ages seem to us now. The fact that we are living through the nascent development of digital recordings makes us a lot like the first people to discover (or create) things like cuneiform, paper, and the printing press. Our obsession with things like bandwidth metering today is going to look just about as silly as a papyrus shortage in a short time from now.

Humor and Good News "Roam" by the B-52s -- the dance version
(Video) Just when you thought a song couldn't get any peppier

Humor and Good News Man crosses English Channel using a chair and a bunch of helium balloons

Broadcasting Really? Television shows about cake? More than one?
Really? That's why we needed the 500-channel universe?

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