Thursday, July 5, 2012

when worlds collide

Last month some prehistoric Texas Republicans who were deciding the state's educational curriculum decided that along with opposing the teaching of critical thinking skills (who want to think for themselves, anyway?), “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change should be emphasized as challengeable science.  These legislators oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”


Meanwhile, last month here in Hong Kong SB and I met a truly unique scientific specimen, an astrophysicist.  There are only about 10,000 in the world and as they are a reclusive bunch, sightings are rare outside of their natural habitat, usually upon some remote mountain peak or underground in a giant laboratory.  A few reside near Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Texas despite their state's apparent hostility toward critical thinking.

This man was so interesting that SB and I had no choice but to latch onto  him like starving cephalopods and nourish ourselves on his brain.  Over Thai food in Wanchai he talked to us about the feasibility of travel to Mars.  While out on the Ping Shan Heritage Trail he talked about life in his remote Chilean observatory.  During yum cha at Maxim's he told us to check out the site PHD Comics, which he said gave an uncanny glimpse into the life of a PHD nerd.  SB and I discovered that most graduate students have quite a lot in common with PHDs.

Best of all, the astrologer pointed us to a funny sketch that does a very good job at explaining the Higgs boson:  It was very timely since very recently a bunch of these rare astrophysicists were tearfully celebrating the apparent discovery of the God particle.  Pretty cool.  I wonder if this discovery will be one of the top discoveries made in this century.  People will ask, do you remember when the Higgs boson was detected, and I will say, why yes.  I was sitting at home, marveling (smugly) at how fortunate SB and I were to have met this astrophysicist when the news broke.

*Correction: Spike has informed me that " it was not Republicans deciding on the education curriculum, it was a committee making recommendations for the party platform for the 2012 elections."


Spike said...

Have you looked at your blog lately? Your background image is now multiple views of a frog in an icecube with the caption "Domain unregistered." Your text is illegible on the page as a result.

Anyway, it was not Republicans deciding on the education curriculum, it was a committee making recommendations for the party platform for the 2012 elections.

architart said...

Yeah, my image hosting site is having some technical difficulties. I may be finding a new site. Thanks for the correction.

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