Facebook has taken a lot of flack lately. And it’s not about to let up. Besides the revelations that most users – about 2 billion people – have had their profiles scraped and sold for commercial and political ends, now the very nature of social media is being exposed as potentially damaging to your mental health. But how could a website hurt you psychologically, let alone one that’s populated by news and photos from your friends? The devil, of course, is in the detail.
William Clement Stone once said: aim for the moon, if you miss, you might hit a star.
Is this how we think jellyfish have sex, is it? You're adorable. You totally are. Jellyfish reproduction is really alien and unintuitive, at least in the eyes of humans. If they had vocal chords, or brains, or cognitive processing abilities, jellies would...
If superheroes were real, Elon Musk would be Science Man. Or Technology Chap. Or Business Acumen Person. Either way, he’s a major force behind our industrial and technological evolution, and that’s why we should all know who he is and what he’s doing. Because he’s literally trying to save the human race.
Our relationship with dogs has bestowed them with intelligence for inferential learning, something which sets us apart from all other life on Earth.
Enter any number into a calculator and divide it by zero. What do you get? UNDEFINED. What in the name of Turing’s testicles does your calculator mean by undefined?
This is my friend Sutton, who volunteered for a harmless experiment in classical conditioning. Let’s start by poking him in the eye.
How does science regard knowledge? Here’s a handy map.
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All life on Earth is connected. Whether you’re a marine worm or a marmoset, the same genetic code proliferates your DNA. That’s the basis of Evolution 101.
Do you even lift, bro? This is the mating call in BroScience: those who measure their self-worth by the amount of weight they can lift.
As the man who invented the 20th century, Nikola Tesla gave us alternating current, radio waves, x-rays, radar, hydroelectricity and transistors. Top chap.
The Ancient Greeks gave us the first concept of atoms, and so were not nearly as stupid as they looked, despite draping themselves in bed sheets.
This is the true story of a parasitic flatworm called Curtuteria australis. This mysterious body-snatching organism lives within multiple hosts during its life-cycle. Curtuteria australis, or Curt because it's easier to write, doesn't have an easy life....
Sometimes you just have to draw a loosely scientific diagram of a bee and publish it on the internet without any questions being asked, ok? <a href="#" rel="nofollow" class="et_social_open_all"...
Darwin and Wallace had a strange relationship at times.
Nanomedicine is coming for you. In a good way. Industrial nanotechnology has already been around for a good few years: think self-cleaning paints, water-repellent clothes, glass coatings, engine lubricants, UV protection. In fact, the tiny, invisible world...
It's actually easier than you think. Instead of poking around its sex organs like a lonely fisherman, look for the half-orange, half-black colouring, also known as the split-coloured lobster. Said to occur at a rate of 1-in-50 million, the two-tone...
Charles Darwin was a heavily bearded chap who published the theory of evolution by natural selection. Turns out he had a good few philosophical views too.
As you very well know, Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed one of the two main pillars of modern physics.
Britain is full of ancient monuments. We practically trip over them on our morning stroll to the haberdashers. Medieval castles, Roman baths, Megalithic villages, giant hill figures: the landscape is littered with historic monuments, the most famous of...
You think you know how old you are, but there are many different biological and cultural ways to measure how long you’ve been farting around on Earth.
Don't be a silly sausage, you can't pet Schrodinger's Cat because he isn't real. He's a hypothetical cat in an 80-year-old thought experiment. He was created by Erwin Schrodinger in an attempt to illustrate his objection to quantum uncertainty. But the...
Wow! Science! Zap!
Science is more than lab coats and test tubes and Einstein’s bad hair day. It’s a broad system of developing knowledge, based on what we can measure empirically.
It comes from the Latin word scientia, which means knowledge. “Wait a second,” you say, “this already sounds terribly boring, just what kind of website is this?” Don’t worry, I pat you reassuringly on the head. Science comes to life when you apply these boring principles to the real world. Then you can make cool discoveries about it.
Science demands measurable truth on which we scaffold our way to enlightenment. The past few centuries have seen us transform industry, technology and medicine thanks in whole to science. It’s how we’ve invented space rockets and morphine and augmented reality which makes our whole existence that much better.
“Science is different to all the other systems of thought…
you don’t need faith in it, you can check that it works.”
Brian Cox, Particle Physicist and author of Why Does E=MC2? (And Why Should We Care?)
Imagine your day without the inventions of science. You wouldn’t get very far at all, unless you currently thrive semi-naked in the wilderness. My congratulations if you do. For narrative purposes I’m assuming you don’t, and your ongoing survival can be credited to the four underlying principles of science:
1. Empiricism means that knowledge comes from direct observation. It means there’s no scientific validity to things we can’t measure, like ghosts, telepathy and homeopathy. They could just as well be made up.
2. Testability says our ideas must be falsifiable. I might claim to have the power of invisibility but only when no-one’s looking. Science points out this is untestable: you can’t prove me wrong, and I can’t prove me right. All faith-based systems lack testability.
3. Parsimony tells us to avoid making assumptions. In other words, when you’re confronted with two possible explanations, choose the one that makes the fewest assumptions. Scientology makes claims which aren’t parsimonious.
4. Determinism means the universe is bound by cause and effect. This tells us that the notions of fate, karma and even conscious free will are moot. Why? They each imply multiple causes for singular effects, and we know that’s not how reality works.
Take a look at the world through the scientific framework. Just for a treat. It becomes easy to debunk dead-end distractions and focus on things that are more likely to be true. A scientifically-minded society has a lot more to offer than a superstitious, indoctrinated one. So go ahead and wrangle with science, pull it apart, try to prove it wrong. See? You’re already sciencing.
Science now takes an astonishing number of forms. Our modern world provides ample proof of the applied scientific framework, and as a student or proponent of science, you can immerse yourself in fields that appeal to you personally.
Why Fox Pokes Cats
My son, Fox, loves animals. He went through a phase of pestering cats. When he met a feline, he’d squeal with delight and adopt an experimental method to poke and pester the cat to see its reaction. Psychologists call this bottom-up processing. Make no assumptions about cats: only scaffold your way up to new conclusions.
Eventually the cat would claw at him and scarper. Fox learned the cat had sharp claws, and didn’t so much enjoy the interaction. Now when Fox meets a cat, he doesn’t have to go through the whole experimental rigmarole of poking it senseless to see what will happen. Now he’s top-down processing: we start with an already-established conclusion.
All children adopt this scientific framework naturally, because it’s intuitive. The problem is, it works so well that we get cocky about our ability to build knowledge, and we being to rely heavily on a top-down approach. As adults, we then fail to gather basic data in the light of new situations, and we forget our open-minded schema which would have led us to empirical truth.
We trust unreliable sources as if they provide empirical truth. Like humanity, the internet is loaded with good eggs and bad eggs, but we don’t seem to be very good at telling the difference. How many mums now consider themselves experts in immunology ever since Andrew Wakefield started his anti-vaccine rampage in the 1990s?
I’m proposing we put on our science filter to make better life decisions. We all need this empirical lens to navigate the media minefield of pseudo-science and indoctrination. So we can make good choices about diet, medicine, education, climate change, genetic modification and other emerging areas where evidence-based science can light our way. Let’s cast off our top-down assumptions, adopt a questioning approach, and play in ways we haven’t done since we were five years old and poking cats.
“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”
~ Carl Sagan, Astrophysicist and author of Cosmos
My aim with this website is fairly benevolent. I take these hardcore scientific principles and tell you the stories that emerged from them, in a fun and carefree sort of way. You’ve just read the most serious page on Science Me, so now that I’ve brainwashed you with fluffy empirical knowledge, sit back, take your trousers off, wear them like a special overlord hat and enjoy the pretty colours.
Facebook has taken a lot of flack lately. And it’s not about to let up. Besides the revelations that most users – about 2 billion people – have had their profiles scraped and sold for commercial and political ends, now the very nature of social media is being exposed as potentially damaging to your mental health. But how could a website hurt you psychologically, let alone one that’s populated by news and photos from your friends? The devil, of course, is in the detail.read more
William Clement Stone once said: aim for the moon, if you miss, you might hit a star.read more
Is this how we think jellyfish have sex, is it? You're adorable. You totally are. Jellyfish reproduction is really alien and unintuitive, at least in the eyes of humans. If they had vocal chords, or brains, or cognitive processing abilities, jellies would...read more
If superheroes were real, Elon Musk would be Science Man. Or Technology Chap. Or Business Acumen Person. Either way, he’s a major force behind our industrial and technological evolution, and that’s why we should all know who he is and what he’s doing. Because he’s literally trying to save the human race.read more
Our relationship with dogs has bestowed them with intelligence for inferential learning, something which sets us apart from all other life on Earth.read more
Enter any number into a calculator and divide it by zero. What do you get? UNDEFINED. What in the name of Turing’s testicles does your calculator mean by undefined?read more