Thursday, 7 March 2013

Don't Read This Blog

Just using a bit of reverse psychology there.

This blog is for my own amusement. It's about one of the online courses I'm taking. So you can click X now if you're bored with hearing about that.

When I was at school it was well-known and obvious to anyone that I was into language(s) and history and sociology and arts, we might say I was a Humanities student, except nobody even taught me that concept at that time. There was just this feeling, that these were the things Melanie was good at, all hail the right brain.

But school requires a "rounded" education (even if they fail at giving one) so I also had to study mathematics and sciences. You've heard my ramblings on mathematics.

Science is easier. It's stuff you can see, play with, experience. There is math IN science, and no escaping it, but it's only part of the whole. Physics wasn't offered at my school, because we were girls (edit rant) and we had a choice of regular biology or human biology, I took the latter. I also took chemistry because I thought it would be fun. I did well, me and chemistry got along just fine.

If you had asked me, back then, to draw a small image to represent chemistry, I would have drawn a bunsen burner with a flask of liquid bubbling in it.

Among the courses I intially ignored at Coursera was "Chemistry: Concept Development and Application". Been there, done that, passed, "got it" enough for everyday life. Besides, the title suggested a more in-depth version of study, and it put me off.

After I discovered that by rearranging my day a bit, including getting up earlier, I could actually fit more of these courses into my life than I first thought, I went back and added more. Very glad I did, as many of my "second choices" have turned out to be better than some of my first ones.

Among these, I decided to have a proper look at what the "Chemistry: Concept Development and Application" course involved.

What I first noticed was the image used to represent the course. Not a bunsen burner, but a diagram of a molecule. That scared me, frankly. But the description suggested that this was a novel approach to understanding Chemistry, and I'm all for novel approaches.

I still wasn't really sure if this would turn out to be a refresher course, or something "advanced". It is neither.

If the first week's lectures and reading material are anything to go by, this is actually an idiot-proof approach to really, really understanding Chemistry.

I come away from this first part feeling like I invented the entire science. Feeling like those who discovered the evidence of atoms felt. OK, they did the actual work, so it's not the same, but you know what I mean.

I'll be damned - simple mathematics conclusively demonstrates the existence of atoms. We weren't taught that in school. We were taught what atoms were, what they were made of, but never how we knew they were there. Without seeing them.

Because that was how it had to BE. You can't go looking for something, especially something invisible to the naked eye, until you know it must be there. This is so obvious, so clear, so..............

It was much the same in the world of biology of course. This I knew forever, don't even remember it being taught, but at some point I learned that we knew there had to be germs BEFORE we found them, because the evidence was in. People got sick, and something was travelling between them.

But this...this Atomic Molecular Theory, this makes sense. It makes much sense as 2 + 2 =4. If I'd been around 200 years ago, given the right laboratory equipment, I could have figured it out, I'm sure I could.

Now, I hate to repeat myself but once more here we have a reason to tell the anti-evolutionists to STFU.

We knew there had to be germs, before we had the equipment to see them, and we knew where to look, and eventually we saw them. There they are! Can't deny them now.

We knew there had to be atoms, before we had the equipment to see them, and we knew where to look, and eventually we saw them. There they are! Can't deny them now.

We knew there had to be evolution, before we had the equipment to see it, and we know where to look, and we are slowly but surely seeing it. It's there. Stop denying it before you make fools of your selves. The math is there. OK, I admit the math in evolution is melting my brain, but it's still there, the concept is obvious, evolution is a mathematical certainly. It's not "only" a theory. Atomic Molecular theory and Germ theory are not "only" anything. They are what leads us to seeing what's there.

Yeah, I know you did all this 40 years ago, but I didn't. I caught up eventually.

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