Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why Study Science?

This is a question asked by my students. They are asking for a reason to justify the effort they put in, and in some students' case it is a great deal of effort. Here is one thought - 'cause Jurrasic Park didn't quite get it right.

Ever notice the colors of the dinosaurs in the movie Jurrasic Park? Why would dinosaurs all be the same or very similar colours? Many animals in nature in the same environment do not? Furthermore close examination of the velociraptors in the movie have smooth grey skin. Fossil records now show that velociraptors and possibly juvenile t-rex's had feathers.


So - how did we get the impression that dinosaurs were grey in the first place? Elephants are grey, elephants are big. Dinosaurs are big (not all) = dinosaurs are grey?

So - if we got this wrong, and only a decade or so ago we thought dinosaurs were grey - what else has changed? While this may not change your day to day life (a dollar is still a dollar, your fav tv shows still come on at their usual time) but something you just accepted to be true is now proven to be - not so much true.

If this is so, what else should be re-examined? What will we learn tomorrow? How will this affect my kids?


Kimberly said...

I have never thought Dinosaurs were grey. Most animals are different colors and/or patterns- so I always figured dinos probably are, too.

I have always enjoyed science. even thought I just 'grew up to mom' and not a microbiologist, I still love science and am glad I studied it. My kids all like science, too. I can't imagine needing to explain 'why study science' ; though I often wonder 'why study advance math if you are NOT going into a field that needs much math?'

Joel said...

great questions/discussion points, and great blog!

Stranded said...

Another reason to study science is . . . so you can write Jurassic Park. Inaccuracies notwithstanding, Michael Crichton was a medical student before he wrote The Andromeda Strain.
And wasn't Danny the Dinosaur greenish? (Which no doubt gave me an equally incorrect monochromatic impression of dinosaurs).

Dr. Kenneth R. Sepeti Esq. said...

Just watch Super Mario Brothers: The Movie. I'm pretty sure that's accurate at what dinosaurs looked like.