Hello, and welcome to the ‘Life is Rough’ series of articles.
I am beginning this series as an attempt at communicating not just scientific information but a scientific mindset. Science is a way to support our curiosity about the universe with objectivity and rationality. In allowing us to understand the reality of our world and ourselves, scientific understanding enriches us. It provides us with a toolset to ask and answer questions about our world and everything in it.
Without a scientific mindset, many things in the world seem ‘smooth’ when you think about them, with nothing you can use to get a handle on them. Your mind just slides off them, unable to grapple with their underlying reality, forced to only accept their effects on your life. Unable to understand what makes them tick, you cannot understand what will make them stop. And we fear most what we do not understand.
Scientific research frequently involves looking at big, ‘smooth’ problems; closely enough to see that they are made of up smaller, component problems. When these smaller problems are solved, they can be used to understand and solve the big problem. So, what was once ‘smooth’ is now ‘rough’. A wall that seemed unscalable from a distance is actually populated with helpful handholds and footholds, now that you look at it up close.
In the ‘Life is Rough’ series, I plan to look up close at the science behind a variety of issues, from the screening of medical equipment and drugs using horseshoe crab blood proteins to the development of bioweapons from plant hormones, from implants and transplants to vaccination, and a lot of other things in between.
Stay tuned, folks!