I was an ordinary person
who studied hard.
Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist, d. 1988 (via whats-out-there)
"You ask me if an ordinary person could ever get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them. Of course! I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There are no miracle people. It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff, but they’re just people. There’s no talent, no special ability to understand quantum mechanics, or to imagine electromagnetic fields, that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. I was not born understanding quantum mechanics — I still don’t understand quantum mechanics! I was born not knowing things were made out of atoms, and not being able to visualize, therefore, when I saw the bottle of milk that I was sucking, that it was a dynamic bunch of balls bouncing around. I had to learn that just like anybody else. So if you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and work and thinking and mathematics, then he’s become a scientist!”
True of art, as well.
In addition, she said, her colleagues need to recognize the potential of women who discover a passion for science relatively late. Studies show that an early interest in science doesn’t correlate with ability. You can be a science nut from infancy and not grow up to be good at research … or you can come to science very late and turn out to be a whiz.
The history of philosophy has always been the agent of power in philosophy, and even in thought. It has played the repressor’s role: how can you think without having read Plato, Descartes, Kant and Heidegger and so-and-so’s book on them? A formidable school of intimidation which manufactures specialists in thought—but which makes those who stay outside conform all the more to this specialism which they despise. An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it stops people from thinking.
Whenever philosophical education lapses into learning facts about history and texts, regurgitating an instructor’s views, or learning from a textbook, it moves away from its Socratic roots in conversation. Then it becomes so much the worse for philosophy and for the students on the receiving end of what the radical educationalist Paolo Freire referred to pejoratively in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) as the ‘banking’ of knowledge. The point of philosophy is not to have a range of facts at your disposal, though that might be useful, nor to become a walking Wikipedia or ambulant data bank: rather, it is to develop the skills and sensitivity to be able to argue about some of the most significant questions we can ask ourselves, questions about reality and appearance, life and death, god and society. As Plato’s Socrates tells us, ‘These are not trivial questions we are discussing here, we are discussing how to live.’
Congratulations for picking a really fun and satisfying subject to study! As someone who’s been through it all already (MSci Theo Phys and am in the midst of an Astro PhD) I thought, in honour of the first day of term, I would impart some old-people wisdom for those just starting their first classes - mistakes I made so you don’t have to…
So the problem with word problems is that no-one *really* cares *exactly* how long it takes a bath to overflow - certainly not enough to do complicated algebra.
The problem with relevance is that, let’s face it, this unit is a stepping stone to more advanced mathematics and actually is *not* really relevant in peoples everyday lives.
So … don’t make it relevant: make it interesting. Theme a lesson or two on (for example) a space mission. … Then you can include all the contrived questions you want, and it won’t matter. Why not?
I: Everybody knows that for astronauts - unlike for baths - accuracy matters
II: It might not be relevant to them, but at least they might accept that *somebody* does this stuff
&III: Dealing with space … might actually take their mind off the whole maths thing.
Exactly. Alex, (whoever you are) thank you.
what if rocks are actually soft but just tense up when we touch them?
I haven’t looked at my dash in a while; I love that this was at the top upon logging in.
It may just be somebody’s “silly” question, and yet it reminds me so much of the questions central to quantum physics — important questions about the most basic elements (that we know of to date) that constitute our being.