Science is at its best when curious people are just trying to find things out

Posted on August 5, 2011  Comments (6)

Brian Cox has a new television show, Wonders Of The Universe (a co-production of the BBC, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel), that looks like it will be wonderful. I would love more great shows on science. BBC has done some great stuff, so has PBS and the Discovery channel. I’ll be exploring what kind of access those channels have provided over the internet in the next year. I hope it is good. I was going to link to the web site for the show but the first 2 videos I tried to click on to view they wouldn’t show, so I don’t see the point in linking – hopefully eventually people that care about promoting science will make decisions to use the internet sensibly).

Interview of Professor Brian Cox

That’s a very important point about scientific discovery in general. Most scientists are interested in just looking at the universe, looking at nature. I don’t think there are many great discoveries that you can point to that were the result of someone wanting to find the answer to a particular question. If you look back at Einstein or Newton, you find that people are fascinated often by the smallest things, actually. In terms of Einstein, cosmology—which is a real part of the way the universe evolved, the way the universe began, the Big Bang—all that stuff came from Einstein really just being interested in the speed of light. He was just interested. It was a question he’d always asked. He’d always wondered about how light travels. It’s a useful lesson, in general, not only to the theories, but that science is at its best when curious people are just trying to find things out.

There’s a very famous quote from [Alexander] Fleming, when he discovered penicillin, he said something like, “On September something 1928, I didn’t expect to wake up and revolutionize medicine.” He woke up playing around with little bits of mold in his kitchen, basically. He was just interested in moldy things. [Laughs.] And he revolutionized everybody’s life. Everybody. Virtually everybody who is over the age of about 40 or 50 is alive today because of antibiotics. Virtually everybody would have died if it hadn’t been for that. And it wasn’t someone trying to discover antibiotics that did it. It was someone exploring nature. So, the argument, “Couldn’t we just spend our money making everybody’s lives better?” We are doing that. That’s what exploration actually does.

Related: Why Do People Invest Large Amounts of Time and Money? (Neil deGrasse Tyson)Brian Cox Particle Physics WebcastScience and Engineering WebcastsScientifically Literate See a Different WorldScience and the Excitement, the Mystery and the Awe of a Flower

6 Responses to “Science is at its best when curious people are just trying to find things out”

  1. JJ
    August 7th, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

    Brian Cox is great. He’s a modern day Carl Sagan, and manages to instill that sense of wonder in the universe. Never lacking enthusiasm.. looking forward to catching this series! 🙂

  2. Anonymous
    August 9th, 2011 @ 6:22 am

    Curiosity is our natural way to be a scientist. Being curious over things triggers oneself to dig on to it just to find result. As it is being said curiosity kills the cat”.

  3. Ana Jones
    August 9th, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    Everything starts from simple things, and when people start to wonder. People become curious everyday on different things that have been evolving in this world and this where science starts.

    Great article, very informative.

  4. Albert
    August 11th, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    It echoes in the world of open source software. I’ve heard it said that the most successful open source software projects start and continue for quite some time by a single determined developer who has an “itch”.

  5. Anonymous
    August 15th, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    Science is a great choice for those who enjoy research and have an inquisitive mind. To be scientist is to be an explorer, make new discoveries and report them to the world.

  6. Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant » Curious Cat Science Blog
    August 21st, 2011 @ 1:05 am

    […] This Asian Elephant, seemed to consider the problem, devise a solution and then go get a stool to reach food that could not be reached without a tool… Kandula seems to be very curious elephant, good for him). […]

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