Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Idea Interviewee: Dave Dolak

Today was our first shoot day, and it went very well! We interviewed the awesome Dave Dolak, and I couldn't be happier to be starting off this webseries with filming him. A super guy, I met Dave back at Columbia when I signed up for his absolutely fabulous class Dinosaurs and More: Geology Explored. There was a little more about rocks than I wished to learn, but it was worth it to learn everything I ever wanted to know about dinosaurs. And Dave even mentioned in his interview that most geologists got their  start with dinosaurs, because let's be honest, who doesn't like them?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Science is the Quest for Truth

I've watched the video below several times and I've found it rather inspiring. I've been meeting a lot of scientists or people interested in science at my job lately and had some very interesting and stimulating conversations about science, specifically, how art and science are more closely related than most people assume.
We've always had this divide of left brain and right brain, and you're usually one or the other -- left brain; you're calculating, good at math and science, maybe a little more organized but emotionally distant. Right brain; you're creative, artistic, an outside-the-box thinker, scatterbrained and perhaps emotional. And those are the two camps we divide ourselves into and resign ourselves to. I've done it; always considered myself a right-brainer: good at drawing and other artsy things, only just good enough at math and science (the exception being geometry, which is pretty visual and less abstract).
But I think we all need to stop sticking ourselves at these camps and shortchanging our potential as curious, learning human beings. After all, I know a million artists who take one look at a restaurant bill and shrug at the idea of calculating a tip, almost proudly stating, 'I'm so bad at math'. No one does that about reading, you know; no one admits happily that they are a terrible reader. And I think putting oneself in one camp or the other makes it easy to never try or push or learn -- I decided I was right-brained and therefore bad at things like chemistry, which I think was why I didn't do as well in those subjects, as opposed to actually being bad at it, I think.
Science and art -- and I think a lot of people are realizing this -- are, at their hearts, the same thing. Science, if you watch the wonderful video below, is "the quest for truth", as Carolyn Porco says. And isn't art just that? The quest for truth? Of course, art and science take very different measures to finding those truths. Science uses repeated trials and educated guesses and concrete evidence to find their truths. Art uses abstract concepts and emotion to find their truths. Radically different, but at the end of the day, doesn't that mean right and left brainers -- humans, really -- are all searching for the same thing?
What I find so beautiful is our cosmic search for truth, all in our own ways. Perhaps it sounds a little grandiose, but I think it's what makes us so special. This is why I am putting together this webseries. There are a lot of creatures out there with the gift of curiosity -- you see it in primates, dogs and cats all the time; even birds or creatures of the sea. But we, as humans, are the only species that not only have that gift of curiosity, but the capacity to ask 'why'? and explore that why - each in our own way - 'til we get an answer. And that is absolutely beautiful.
Hopefully, with this webseries, we encourage exploration, we encourage asking 'why' and 'how' to people who both foster their curiosity as well as people who let it lay dormant. Marrying the ideas of art and science in an appealing way that shows left and right brain are, deep down, both asking 'why?' and finding different ways to answer that all-encompassing question.

Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)