Home | About | Donate

Science Isn't Just for Scientists—We Can All Take Part


Science Isn't Just for Scientists—We Can All Take Part

Madeline Ostrander

After he moved to London in his early 20s, Luke Howard became obsessed with the weather. Howard had a day job running a pharmacy business in the 1790s and early 1800s, but he spent a lot of his spare time staring at the sky. He collected a set of makeshift weather instruments—glass thermometers; a hygrometer (to measure moisture in the air) cobbled together from a wire spring and a strip of whalebone; and a barometer attached to an old astronomical clock that he bought secondhand and repaired himself.


Just a comment on the sign in the photograph: "Belief" has no place in science. Understanding of the scientific method and trust in those that employ it in a properly peer-reviewed manner in realms beyond one's personal expertise is the basis of science. Belief is for the symbol-minded, held spell bound for millennia by mysticism and the like.


Nonscientists have been making valuable contributions for a long time. Bird counts by bird watchers provide valuable information about changes in bird populations. Amateur astronomers play an important role in some aspects of astronomy such as searching for comets and asteroids. And people observing changes in their local natural environments can add important information about climate science. Obviously much of science has to be well-funded because it is extremely expensive. Citizens cannot substitute for professional scientists. But in many instances they can play a supporting role.


Interesting that the article discusses picturing clouds - but doesn't mention cloud computing. That's the part of citizen science that has really taken off in recent years.


This article states:

Then, somewhere between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, science took a turn. As it became more powerful, sophisticated, complicated, and better funded, it disappeared behind the walls of ivory towers and corporate labs.

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table

The Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev published the first widely recognized periodic table in 1869.

It was the 1800s when scientists finally established what the fundamental elements are and the relationships among those elements - as illustrated in the periodic table of the elements - making modern chemistry and physics (and all the fields that depend upon them) possible. Human beings had unlocked one of nature's fundamental secrets - the building blocks of the physical world.

It became possible for the first time in human history to predict and control which elements would combine with each other, making synthetics possible - a boon to industry in all its aspects.


Unmentioned, despite the stunningly deleterious role of ocean and off-shore dumping of plastic and other waste materials, is the fact that the instruments being used by the up and coming public science contributors are designed for "planned obsolescence".

I hope that the public busts through its worship of the annual "new" electronics and demands legacy design that enables a core instrument upon which innovations can be added and subtracted rather than poisoning the planet with our cleverness.


The great science discoveries were made by people who didn't really know what they were trying to achieve, but were curious and had the wit to follow their ideas logically and then communicate the results clearly.

As fo Anthropogenic Gobal Heating; that was modelled first by Arrhenius in 1894-1895 because he was curious about what might have caused the ice ages.