A Fresh Start on Science

What a great conversation on Monday’s post “How and Why I Don’t Know Science.” Thanks to the kindness of the WordPress editor, the post was Freshly Pressed, so my story about high school science class got a lot of readers, both new and old friends.

As an aside, being Freshly Pressed is such a wonderful phenomenon. When I first started this blog, a guest post about “Lake Erie” by my good and long-time friend Wilma Kahn was Freshly Pressed. Wilma had a lively discussion that went on for quite some time. It’s so much fun talking to bloggers. Ever notice that other bloggers can be smarter and more interesting than some other people in your life ;)? Just sayin’.

Back to Monday’s post. Because I talked about giving up studying science over the thought of dissecting a cat, a lot of the discussion that’s still ongoing has been about animal dissection, animal issues, and science pedagogy. All subjects wide open for debate. All subjects which stir strong emotions in readers.

I know where I stand on those issues, as is evidenced in the piece. Where I am confused is where I stand on science and learning science at my age.

Science makes me feel stupid, and I hate feeling stupid. That’s why I long ago “liked” that page on Facebook called I Fucking Love Science (a catchy name, but one I find a little embarrassing). If you’re on Facebook and haven’t yet liked this page, run to your Facebook account and do so. It provides interesting scientific facts in bite-sized pieces. You can see a life-sized model of a blue whale heart, pictures of the penis-head fish, and other goodies. You can learn that Mars has boron which might be crucial for the formation of life.

Although I will admit to being a lifelong student, I have no intention of making myself go to school again for science. Somehow I don’t see myself in front of the Bunsen burner.

In the comments for Monday’s post, Lauren at From Screen to Words suggested a Youtube website called Crash Course. I plan to spend some time over there.

Recently my parents gave me a video course, which I haven’ t watched yet. It’s called Science and Religion and is produced by The Teaching Company. It sounds similar to the pseudo-science class I took in college–a course about science, but not science. I looked up the course offerings, and they have a lot of actual science courses. Maybe I’ll start with this freebie and then move on to the hard stuff like Physics and Our Universe, Understanding the Human Body (no dissection worries here), Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, and best yet, Joy of Science.

I’ve given myself a lot of challenges in the past few years: write a memoir, write a play with my daughter, put together a poetry manuscript, keep up the blogs, and other non-writing challenges such as the diet that is staring me in the face.  I’m going to add “learn more science” to my daily to do list and see how much science I can cram in this old brain.  I’ll try the video courses. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to my old How and Why Book filled with science experiments for children. That might be my speed.

The Joys Of Scientific Experimentation

The Joys Of Scientific Experimentation (Photo credit: spike55151)

36 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Writing

36 responses to “A Fresh Start on Science

  1. Congratulations Luanne. I loved your post. 🙂

  2. I have to read that post, I’m wayyyyyy behind.

    But you wanna know a secret? I’m a professional medical writer. And I haven’t taken a science class since 9th grade biology. Learning science for a lay person is all about not being afraid of not knowing. Because much of it isn’t that hard once you get beyond yourself and the big, hard to spell words. Seriously.

    • Luanne

      Elyse, that is so cool. A friend of mine was a science writer for a major science and medical university and recently switched to engineering. She’s an English major and was a reporter. If one has the desire and intellectual ability, one can do it, I’m sure. One of the many great combinations of writing and science is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Have you read it?

  3. I loved reading about your experience with science in school – in fact I’m always interested in reading about the educational experiences of others – on any subject. I didn’t formally learn any science after the sixth grade (in fact, I gave up on public education entirely upon entering the seventh grade) but found myself working in jobs that only exist now because of scientific advances. Accordingly I’ve had to learn the relevant science on my own. This has given me a new definition of “science” – a broad one. I have learned fascinating and beautiful things about the world we occupy as a result. I wish alternative classes had been available to you in those days which would have enabled you to learn about the aspects of science that could fill you with wonder, rather than horror.

    • Luanne

      Ah, LOVE that–“to learn about the aspects of science that could fill you with wonder, rather than horror.” That’s exactly what I am looking for!!!

      • Several years ago, in my never-ending autodidactic quests, I stumbled upon two books by Carl Sagan: Broca’s Brain and Cosmos. If you haven’t read them I recommend strongly that you consider doing so. As I mentioned in one of my posts, I learned celestial navigation when I was in the navy. I frequently look to the star-filled sky, now knowing the names of much of what I see. The outer sense of wonder that I feel when I gaze up at the stars has been enhanced by reading Cosmos. The inner sense of wonder that I feel when I marvel at how the human mind works has been equally enhanced by reading Broca’s Brain. These books represent the science of something incredibly small – the brain cells we know so little about – and something unimaginably large – the universe. In learning about either or both we can be filled with wonder.

  4. Congrats, congrats! Very cool beans!

  5. Ah, thanks for the mention! I hope you find the website useful. Also a belated congrats on being freshly pressed! I just realised I forgot to mention it in my other comments 🙂

  6. I guess this answers the question, “Can you get Freshly Pressed more than once?” YES!! And may there be many more times for all your great essays.

  7. Hey. Besides natural sciences there are many other choices. No dead cats in philosophy (being the mother of all sciences) or more contemporary computer science.

    Those tend to be more theoretical – you can argue your point across – and less boring – no need for continuously repeating some stupid experiment.

    • Luanne

      Dirk, do you think philosophy is a science? Because it’s not in with the sciences in universities, right? But you’re right–they are more theoretical and less “hands on.” Haha, there is that–the boredom of repetition!!

      • I consider Philosophy not only as science, but as THE science. If you look at logic (originating from Philosophy) it is the basis for all sciences: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science

        Don’t know how universities treat it, depends on the country, I guess. It seems your universities consider only natural sciences as science, which is quite limiting.

        • Luanne

          Dirk, that’s a fascinating concept. I actually love logic. I get stressed out when I have to deal with somebody else who is being “illogical.” I used to teach English, and although it’s rarely done any more logic used to part of the curriculum for teaching writing. Philosophy is considered one of the “humanities” or more often one of the “social sciences,” along with psychology. I studied philosophy when I did graduate work in English because it had become part of literary “theory.”

  8. thanks and congratulation on being freshly pressed and ur great, really .

  9. Hi, Luanne, The Teaching Company is a wonderful way to learn about anything. We’ve been purchasing courses from them for years and have been impressed with the quality of the courses. It’s a good idea to read the reviews on their website as well. I’ve found those very helpful when trying to choose between similar courses. Best, Marie

    • Luanne

      Marie, that’s a great tip about reading the reviews before I buy any of the other courses. They all look interesting–all the subject. I want to “take” a music one because I want to re-learn the language of music.

  10. I a smart father (NASA engineer) who insisted I would not succeed in science nor most math, so I took Biology in the summer course, “easier” class and did Earth Science. Turns out I “majored” in English in high school, this was the 70’s, with 4-5 mini courses of literature. Took the minimum other required classes of History, Geography, Sociology, etc. It is so funny but I love science in that I impart thoughts to my grandkids. We went creek walking last weekend. We look for the smallest of details in the plants, rocks and critters. I think it is okay not to be knowledgeable in some areas and stronger in others! Thanks for finding me and liking my post!

  11. I’d recommend a beautiful science book for non-scientists called “Is God a Mathematician?” by Mario Livio. The anecdote about Godel’s US citizenship interview is worth the price of admission all by itself; you’ll fall off your chair laughing, But the real point of the book–and it’s a wonderful one–is that the universe seems to be susceptible to description by scientific analysis and, in particular, mathematics. Livio makes you see how extraordinary that is. Go, read it; you’ll be happier for it.

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