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By definition, creativity goes to deep issues of psychology and ultimately what it means to be human — areas that science has always had a hard time investigating.  Science tends to do the easiest things first.  It is nothing if not practical.  This fact of scientific life suggests the magnitude of the challenge that investigators face.
Even so, the importance of the subject and the potential richness of the returns make it attractive.  Big risks can produce big rewards.  It is the kind of topic that might flourish in the decades ahead.
  —   William J. Broad
From his book:  “The Science of Yoga
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On This Day In:
2019 Still Tearing, Still Being Rewarded
2018 Nothing More, Nothing Less
2017 Memorial Day – 2017
No Wonder I’m Smiling
2016 Thinking Science Fictional
2015 Dawn Is Coming
2014 Back When I Was A Firebrand
2013 Pen In Hand
Word Up!
2012 Disturbing
Trying To Keep Up
2011 Unreliable And Selective
2010 Adult-Onset Athlete

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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”  —   book review
This book review is for the historical / philosophical science book: “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962©), written by Thomas S. Kuhn.  Kuhn was a PhD in physics, but, I gather, considered himself more of a science historian than a “working” physicist.  Kuhn is most famous for this book and it is considered one of the most significant science books of the 20th century.
As I understand it, Kuhn believes there are two types of “science”: the “normal” science and the “revolutionary” science.  Normal science is what 99% of all scientist do: gathering data, analyzing data, creating and refining instruments and tests to gather data.  Revolutionary science is what a small group of scientists do.  Unsatisfied with the anomalous data which doesn’t fit the current understanding (“paradigm”) of a science topic, this group thinks about and generates new ways of looking at the data which just doesn’t fit the “old science” standard.  The ideas which come out of this small group become the “paradigm-shifts” of science.
The historical view of the development of science is analogous to a river: you start somewhere in the past and over time, you pick up more and more water (data, theories, tests, rules, formulas) until you have a full blown river (science classification system, like Chemistry, Biology, Physics or whatever).
Upon review of the history of significant scientific break-throughs, Kuhn found that instead a river, the flow of science was more like a rapids which develops into a water fall.  The rapids are the problems which the current state of science cannot explain or explain away the data supporting.  At a certain point, the problems become too obvious and then “someone” comes along and proposes an alternative explanation for nature which explains the problems.  Like a waterfall, this fully disrupts the rivers steady stream and there is turbulence (“revolution”) until the water can re-stabilize.  Kuhn proposes this is when most, if not all, of the old guard from the prior paradigm have died off.  Then the cycle starts again…
Is this a “great” book?  Did it change my world view (paradigm) of science?  Is it a “good” read?  My answers would be:  Yes!  Not really.  And, no!
I have seen multiple sites and reviewers hail this book as a GREAT book and one which everyone should read in their lifetime.  Who am I to disagree with others more learned than I?  I did find it to be a powerful argument for its case / proposition.
Did it change my view of science?  Not really.  Why not?  Because the ideas in this book are now (after 50+ years) considered to be fairly standard in many fields, not just in science.  The proposition is considered almost human nature: most folks just work to work and every once in a while someone comes along who shakes every thing up.
The issue I have with the book is that it is not a very good read.  I found it EXTREMELY academic AND pedantic.  I am not a historian, a trained scientist, nor a philosopher. I found myself forced to stop at least every few pages to look up a word to make sure I understood what was being said.  Worse, on substituting the definitions I found the sentences made more sense (to me).  I normally don’t mind a specific academic word being used if there is a very specific thing being said which doesn’t lend itself to a simpler word (or phrase).  But, when there is an easier word (or phrase), you (the writer) are not impressing me when you cloud your message with academic erudition.  (See, I can do it, too!)
Also, while the book is reasonably short at just over 200 pages, it is about 150 pages longer than it needs to be – because it is so specific and repetitive.  I felt as if I were reading a dissertation and the author was trying to overwhelm me with proof he’d done his research.  I wasn’t overwhelmed, just bored through most of it.
Final recommendation: strong.  It is easy to see why this is considered a “classic” for its day, but that day was fifty-years ago.  The book (and proposal) has won the day and I believe is fairly widely accepted in both science and in many other fields.  While I recommend this as a classic, it is not an easy or quick read if you want to gain any appreciation of the concept of revolutionary paradigm shifts and how they differ from normal progress in any field (not just science).  Therefore, I doubt the average person will bother to work their way through what is already societal background knowledge. In any case, the concepts of the book are more simply explained in Wikipedia and with far fewer words.
I am better for having read this book, but I would have preferred a gentle tooth cleaning to a root canal.
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On This Day In:
2019 Better To Do
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2018 Keep Moving
2017 Fighting Good
2016 Size Matters
2015 Maybe The Best Thing
2014 Ready To Be Fried?
2013 A Real Lover
2012 Winning Wars
2011 A Different Lesson

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Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology.  The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
  —  Daniel J. Boorstin
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On This Day In:
2019 True Piety
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2017 100th Day (of the Trump Presidency)
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2016 Or Blog
2015 Stretched Today?
2014 Outta Here
2013 Getting Words Right
2012 There’s A New Dog In Town
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2011 A Conservative Is…

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As a science journalist, I have devoted my career to writing about science and trying illuminate its findings and methods.  Science is incredibly tough in practice despite its often gentle and glamorous image.  By nature, it seeks to limit the role of faith, to make as few assumptions as possible, and to subject the information it gathers as well as its own tentative findings to withering doubt.  A synonym for “science” is “organized skepticism.”  The process can be intellectually brutal.  The constructive side is that science, done right, also works to suspend judgment, to collect and test and verify before coming to firm conclusions.  In theory, it can see without prejudice.  That makes it a rare thing in the world of human institutions.
But science — even at its best, even with its remarkable powers of discrimination and discovery — is nonetheless extraordinarily crude.  It can quantify and comprehend.  What gets set aside can be considerable — the wonders of the Sistine Chapel, among other achievements.  Science, for all its triumphs over the last four centuries, sometimes fails to see the obvious.  It is blind to the individuality of a snowflake and the convulsions of the stock market, not to mention ethics.  No equation is going to outdo Shakespeare.
What I know with certainty is that science cannot address, much less answer, many of the most interesting questions in life.  It’s one finger of a hand, as a wise man once said.  I treasure the scientific method for its insights and discoveries, as well as for the wealth of comforts and social advances it has given us.  But I question the value of scientism — the belief that science has authority over all other interpretations of life, including the philosophic and spiritual, moral and humanistic.
  —  William J. Broad
From his book:  “The Science of Yoga
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On This Day In:
2019 An Interest In Life
2018 Two: A Current President With Both
2017 Watch This Space
2016 Beyond The Foundation
2015 Become An Affliction
2014 Just Setting Out
2013 Scott’s Inscription
2012 Good Knowledge
2011 Social Safety Nets

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I was applying to colleges in high school and I already knew I wanted to study the universe at age seventeen because I knew at age nine.  So my applications were dripping with the universe.  I was accepted at Cornell, and it’s time to decide what school you go to, and a set of other schools as well.  The admissions office, unknown to me, sent my application to Carl Sagan.  He was already famous.  He was already on Johnny Carson, Tonight Show.  To get him to just comment on it.  Carl Sagan then sent me a letter, hand signed, saying, ‘I understand you’re considering Cornell.  If you come by and visit I’d be happy to show you the lab.’  And I said, ‘Is this Carl Sagan?’  I showed it to mom, dad, I said, ‘Could this be?’  And it was.  I wrote back and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go up in two weekends.’  He met me on a Saturday morning in the snow, gave me a tour of his lab.  I’m in his office, he reaches back, pulls out one of his books, signs it to me.  It’s time for me to leave, he drives me to the bus station, snowing a little heavier.  He writes his home phone on a sheet of paper, says, ‘If the bus can’t get through, call me, spend the night at our place.’  And I thought to myself, who am I?  I’m just some high school kid.  And to this day, to this day, I have this duty to respond to students who are inquiring about the universe as a career path, to respond to them in the way that Carl Sagan had responded to me.
  —  Neil deGrasse Tyson
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On This Day In:
2019 From My Sullied Prison
2018 In My Room (2)
2017 Pretending
2016 And Songs Too…
2015 On The Road To Failure
2014 Each Moment
2013 Conversation
2012 4 Down, 11 Done (At Last)
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2011 Who’s Risk Is It, Anyway?

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We’re in very bad trouble if we don’t understand the planet we’re trying to save.
We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
  —  Carl Sagan
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On This Day In:
2019 The Deep Center
2018 Oh, Heaven (Too)
2017 Now Pausing Makes Sense
2016 Just Spicy
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2015 Positive Acts Of Creation
2014 One Thing Is Clear
2013 Corrections
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2012 Gemutlichkeit
2011 Back On The Asphalt

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Circles” (2000©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for one of the many books written by James Burke, who’s claim to fame is his ability to popularize science / technology with history and biography to “create” linkages which make the world (and history) appear to be interconnected.  I believe his most well known work is the book and the BBC series “Connections“.  At least this is how I first came to know Burke (and enjoy his work).
Circles” is sub-titled “50 Round Trips through History, Technology, Science, Culture“.  The book is a collection of essays which have been gathered into this form.  Each “essay” / “trip” is about four pages and they are each fairly self-contained, so there is no inherent requirement to read them in order – or all of them for that matter.  Each starts with some action in his life: a trip to the library, beach, coffee shop, etc; winds through the “circle” of people / history / discovery he is hi-lighting and then gets wrapped up with another reference to the initial action / place.
The stories are mildly interesting.  The links are tenuous.  The author occasionally breaks the fourth wall.  But, most frequently, the author writes in a peculiar conversational form which struck me as not using full sentences or proper sentence structure.  I found it hard to discern if this was more conversational, breaking of the fourth wall or simply lazy writing.  In the end, I just found it frustrating to try to figure out the subject of a sentence by having to re-read sentences (or paragraphs).
Final recommendation: poor to moderate recommendation.  I admit to being pretty disappointed.  I was a big fan of his “Connections” series and watched it on my local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) many years ago.  I think I also read the book (way back when), but I can’t swear to it.  I was, therefore, looking forward to more of the same.  This book mostly was “just” the same, but (surprisingly) much less interesting or amusing.  Now I think I have to go back and find the original book (“Connections“) to see if the author has changed or if it’s the reader (me) who has changed.
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On This Day In:
2019 Eureka!
2018 Learning About My Humanity
2017 Laugh Or Shake Your Head
2016 The Expected Cure
2015 Of Two Minds
2014 Pride And Remembrance
2013 Repeating Bad Memories
2012 No Sooner
2011 Just Cheesy!
Are You Illin’?

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