Scientists Can Be Wrong

“the majority of geneticists were still concentrating on protein at the time, and were apparently loath to abandon something into which they had poured so much time and intellectual energy” (Weinberg 34)

This one belief could be one of the most frustrating part of science: scientists are stubborn enough to work on something for years even if they know it is leading to know where. This is across all fields of study, scientists who have poured their lives into an idea that will never come to fruition because it is just not right. I have always wondered how many countless technologies and theories have been struck down simply on the belief of a majority of scientists that your idea is wrong; just because a majority of scientists believe something, does not mean it is right, for 50 years before inflation theory was discovered, scientists believed that the universe was constant, Einstein himself believed this.

 

Scientists Can Be Wrong

Fiction Tells All

“It was a clear case of fiction pre-dating reality, this time by more than a decade” -Weinberg, p49

This quote followed Weinberg’s description about how Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective, actually inspired the “scientific detective,” and figured out that there was an infallible test for blood stains. I was very interested to read that fiction actually predates reality in many instances, and I was very curious as to what other scientific discoveries were already thought of in fiction. I read an article on Wired, written by Nick Stockton, that discussed some of the science that is present in fiction stories that came to life in 2015. It was shocking to me to see all the present scientific advancements we have today that were actually thought up by fictional authors. The most notable inventions from fiction were genetically engineered organisms and food. Stockton mentions that in the book Oryx and Crake Margaret Atwood created characters that were actually genetically modified pigs, which had been modified to have multiple copies of human organs. Now a Virginia based bioengineering firm started its own genetically modified pig-organ breeding program. Another example that Stockton mentioned which was interesting to me was that Isaac Asimov, a science fiction writer, wrote an article for the New York Times where he touched upon turkey and steaks that would one day be grown from yeast and algae. Asimov’s thought of food being grown in a petri-dish is almost a present day reality since many of the flavors that are in our foods today are synthetically created.

Fiction Tells All

The Future and Science

“When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this, there was no way to determine whether a dried bloodstain was human or animal.” Weinberg, page 49

When the author Conan Doyle wrote the mysteries and solved them, the way he solved that one mystery was discovered not much later. It caught my attention since we are never able to know what may be just fictional or what can eventually turn into reality so easily. There are so many things that we read, but we don’t really take them into account. However, they can be the near the future without us realizing it. People that read Sherlock Holmes probably did not even think that what they were reading would actually become an essential thing for crime solving and for identifying people in other situations.

The Future and Science

Future in DNA

She knew her future lay in science, and already she was turning her attention to DNA, the molecule that was reorienting the worlds of biology and chemistry, smashing preconceptions, and opening vistas that spread from pre-birth to eternal life. – Weinberg, page 14

Helena in the book already knew she wanted to be a scientist. She knew a lot about how biology and technology were the future in our society. It is pretty shocking how she had so much knowledge and when it could help her life to solve her case, she could not use it. It is kind of ironic how much effort she put to it her life studying it and then not being able to use in such an important event in her life. I guess that it would also be hard for her to study it later, knowing how she could have helped herself. Nevertheless, I cannot state that as a fact, but an assumption of how I would feel.

 

Future in DNA

Law in Science or Science in Law

When Helena mentions she wants to be the bridge or connection between those that work in suits, which is referencing those working in the law field with people that work in her science based field. I wondered if she meant she would want to use her knowledge in science to improve the way law works, or did she mean she wants to use the ideas used in the field of law to improve her knowledge in her job field. From this speculation I realize that many different ideas can contribute to both fields i.e DNA. Since this discovery, the world of forensics was discovered, I wonder if any more connections between the two can help revolutionize ideas used in either field.

Law in Science or Science in Law

The Future

“If we wanted to, we could predict our life expectancy before birth, our intellectual capacity, hair color, or even our ability to run a marathon.” (Weinberg xi)

Clearly, we have the technology to decipher our own complex DNA, but yet in most cases we don’t.  Is this because we are afraid of what the results may hold?  I feel like most people wouldn’t want to know what the future has in store for them.  But, shouldn’t we at least have a say in the matter?  Most people’s parents make that decision for them before they are even born.  But after that, some people probably would want to know the breakdown of their genes and see what that actually means in terms of how it effects the course of their lives.  Wouldn’t people want to know if they were more susceptible to some diseases and immune to others?  This could potentially influence the way they live their lives both negatively and positively.

Quote

Reuse or Abandon?

“Platforms have a natural appetite for trash, waste, and abandoned goods… Emergent platforms derive much of their creativity from the inventive and economical reuse of existing resources…” -Johnson 199

“Nature has long built its platforms by recycling the available resources, including the waste generated by other organisms. Two things we have in abundance on this planet right now are pollution and seawater. Why not try to build a city out of them?” – Johnson 205

The first quote and idea of Johnson really struck me in regards to new ways and places of human habitation. A common theme in sic-fi books taking place in the future is proposing places where the author imagines humans will be living come some 50, 100, or even a thousand years from now. One that I came across was underground cities. At this point in life, humans had polluted the earth so much that the decided to move underground and build vast networks and infrastructures that were prosperous and habitable while sparing the earth’s bounty above. Other story lines suggest that humans trash their habitats so much that they just move on to other places and must start from scratch.

I think these two proposed situations illustrate an aspect that Johnson’s doesn’t really address about platforms and their efficiency.  For one, I think that for used platforms to be successful in fostering new ideas and having ideas built on top of them, they cannot be overused or dried up. For example, humans being forced to move underground or completely abandon cities because of the level of pollution and destruction does not allow for new ideas to grow or human life to prosper, unless they be animals or organisms that can make use of the environment.

Secondly, Johnson suggests that we build cities out of pollution and seawater, his point being that we can use waste and products which are just sitting idly but largely at our disposal to create things. This lead me to wonder, with all this recent craze about moving to space and inhabiting it, are we moving/thinking in the wring direction? Should we focus  on allowing human life to expand into space, which I am sure that scientists are going to be able to do, or should we focus on making use of the tons of untapped resources that are still on the earth (and maybe make existing resources a bit cleaner while we are at it)? I think it this is such a hard question to answer because there are so many factors involved. Ethics, government, profit, wealth, individual and corporate interests, country’s interests, these are all factors that make the issue complicated.

Reuse or Abandon?

YouTube’s 1/1 Rule

The 10/10 rule stuck out to me for the fact of how long it took for these technological advances to become the new norm.  HDTV didn’t rise to mainstream popularity overnight, but YouTube was close to doing so.  One of my questions for this section dealt with if our generation (Generation Y) had large hand in making YouTube successful at such a faster rate.  I believe that our large generation, who is always seemingly on the next social media fad, definitely contributed heavily to YouTube’s success. Even though HDTV seemed to focus on a larger and broader target audience, it still didn’t have the generational focus that Youtube had to give them this “1/1 Rule”.

YouTube’s 1/1 Rule

Intro: Paradox’s to Theories

In chapter 1, I thought it was interesting how Johnson includes many factors of how Darwin’s Paradox came to be, from reading this I can see the how the love Darwin had for the workings of nature and its inhabitants lead up to his most societal influential theory of Darwinism. This can relate to the commonplace book mentioned in chapter 3 because if darwin had not written all this ideas and theories on paper, it would have been likely that his own spectrum of idea would have been too large for his mind to fathom. Every little thing adds to a bigger theme, accounting for each of those little things lies of great importance in constructing the bigger picture.

Intro: Paradox’s to Theories

Adjacent Possibles

After reading Chapter 1 of Where Good Ideas Come From, I found it very interesting when they discussed the ideas of new advancements or innovations as adjacent possible’s. Essentially, everything we do in a society builds on one another, an adjacent possible, the next invention. I think this idea is interesting because, while science often is described as the exploration of new things or new developments, I never thought machinery or technology as the gathering of many ideas to increase complexity. Everything is based off of the previous and builds in it complexity. While this is believed to be true, I thought the example of Babbage’s Analytical Engine was noteworthy. In this example, it was proposed that the

“machine was so complicated it never got passed the blueprint stage” -Johnson, p37.

I think this idea is extremely important, because while technology leads to  the future, one consequence deals with complexity. Are we ever going to get to a point in which the world is too complex to keep moving forward? Will things come to a halt? I think these ideas are very important to think about especially living in a world today in which technology is so advanced and new things are created every day.

Adjacent Possibles