Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Relatively SciSchmoozing

Hello Fans of Science and Reason,

I have to admit to being a bit overwhelmed by what has been going on these days. The Science Schmooze is about science and reason. I think science is the best tool we have to understand how the universe works and reason is the responsibility of all of us who are involved in making decisions. What Is an Old-Growth Tree Actually Worth? These can’t answer every question though. There is a fuzzy boundary between science and how we all get along personally, locally, nationally, and internationally. Some day that may even extend to extraplanetary! What some accept as a fact isn’t always what others might think. Many times these disagreements end up being decided by someone or a group that is unqualified to decide or understand the consequences of the decision. We are entering the home stretch for many decisions being made in the upcoming years.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that you vote. There is so much anger and dissent in politics these days it is incredibly important for you and all of us to vote. There is lots of hand-wringing going on about the election. There are long term consequences in many areas where science has a lot to say. Consider environmental issues including climate change, resource managementvaccination and disease control, or pro-choice vs. anti-choice. Drifting a bit farther from “science and politics” here’s an interesting ACLU discussion that I think is very relevant to facts vs. science vs. belief.

It’s interesting how some scientists seem to reach in to the future more than others. On September 2 we lost one of the really great futurists and thought leaders, Frank Drake. Here’s one project that you may not think very often but Frank Drake helped make it really cool. Often we only get a very superficial exposure to how a scientist got to where they are. Last night I was able to see EINSTEIN! ~ Celebrating 100 Years of General Relativity at the Lick Observatory. It is about 7 years of Einstein’s life leading up to his figuring out General Relativity. It’s an amazing story. I’m sorry to have to tell you that you won’t be able to do that but you can catch it this coming weekend at UC Davis. It’s not that much of a coincidence that starting Sept 23 Einstein Was Right (there’s a premier 9.22 in the evening) is opening as the explOratorium is celebrating an eclipse that was seen in Wallal, Australia in 1922.

Of course there are a lot of interesting things to see, do, and learn here in the SF Bay area and on-line all over the world! Here are a few that I think look very cool…

How to Decide Which Medical and Health Information You Should Trust Mon @ 3:00

Getting Environmentalists to Vote: What we can learn from big data and behavioral science Wed @ 4:30

Coastal Walk at Pillar Point Bluff Thu @ 10:00

Family Nature Walks – Foothills Nature Preserve Sat @ 10:00

I think a lot of people don’t care for, or even resent, science because they think scientists are a bit arrogant by claiming they know exactly what is going on. Here’s an interesting article about how some thoughts are changing or being challenged about one of the most basic understandings in science… The second law of thermodynamics is among the most sacred in all of science So, what is a law of nature?

So what about science and art? I like to say that science is an art because it is very useful in understanding life, existence, the universe, or ourselves. Tomatoes, or How Not To Define “Art”

I hope you have a great week rethinking some of what you thought and continuing to learn. Equally important… Make sure you are registered to vote and vote as an informed voter.
herb masters

“It has often been said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why then should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher do the philosophising? Such might indeed be the right thing to do a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental laws which are so well that waves of doubt can’t reach them; but it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself have become problematic as they are now … when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation.” — Albert Einstein

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