Saturday, October 16, 2010

Your Quantum Superpowers

A rather fun interview with James Kakalios (he the author of "The Physics of Superheroes") on his new book "The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics". In the interview, he answered the question on why ordinary citizens want to not only learn about the basics of QM, but also why they should realize that research in fundamental knowledge has led to the advancement that we take for granted today.

Q: Are there aspects of this that you feel are particularly important for voters, considering that we have an election season upon us?

A: The bottom line is, when you see all of the benefits that have accrued to us through these applications of basic scientific research, you get a sense that basic science really matters. Recently there's been a tendency to denigrate scientists. People take the titles of certain research grants out of context and ridicule them. But people will explore different things for very different reasons. These are usually peer-reviewed proposals. Many proposals get rejected, but the ones that get accepted are projects where other scientists see true value.

The world is a knowable place, and science is a way of providing that knowledge. The philosophy that guides my book is the idea that science is not "just another opinion." You can argue about, say, the age of the earth, but science provides an answer. We may have to improve on the answer and refine it, but we all agree on the criteria for the answer. It's not just an opinion. It provides you with something you can really depend on. If you don't believe in science, that's fine, but at least put the cell phone down.

A couple of video accompany this interview, which I've included in here as well.


1 comment:

rob said...

i am gonna go see Jim at his book signing tomorrow here in MN.