A boring truth

A boring truth seldom taught in success seminars is that clear, logical thinking and simply plodding ahead with a plan are great tools for success in life. Richard Brodie, Virus of the Mind

What’s science?

A PhD course I took way back was about defining what science was. We read about Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos and others. My lasting impression from the course was that “science” was pretty much defined as whatever the “scientific community” of a particular time defined as science. I use a rather more practical definition: Science is whatever helps us to predict the outcome of experiments or the natural unfolding of events. Science Continue Reading

To boldly go where no man has gone before

A few years back I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by the project manager for the second Mars rover missions launched in 2004, Prof. G. Scott Hubbard. It was an inspiring speech about an impressive engineering achievement; one of the rovers is still operational after more than eight years in an extreme environment. (Unfortunately I had to pinch myself from time to time to stay awake during the speech. Continue Reading

Cramming vs creativity

In an earlier post I reported on the downward trend in the Swedish PISA results [1] (PISA is a survey measuring student knowledge and skills) and contrasted these with the overall competitiveness and innovativeness of Sweden. In a recent issue of The Economist [2] the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is reported to recommend parents to let their children play instead of doing too much homework based on a fear Continue Reading

150 years of controversy

Up there with the great The Economist published an article in their Christmas issue commemorating the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species (and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth on 12 February 1809) [1][2]. I was a bit surprised (or maybe not) about the fact that it still seems newsworthy to not only run a biography of Darwin, the great scientist, but to continue the debate about his ideas Continue Reading

The blind watchmaker and the blind hen

The parameters of the universe we inhabit are incredibly well tuned to allow life to develop. All the constants governing the four known forces of the universe, the masses of the elementary particles etc. have exactly the required values to enable complex molecules and thus life to develop. With even a slightly tweaked set of parameter values the universe would never have developed the way it has, let alone come to life. Continue Reading