Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Speaking of Science: Think like a scientist

Speaking of Science
Sarah Kaplan and Ben Guarino on Science


Hello readers, I'm Carolyn – new to the science team and so happy be here!

I've been covering health care for the past few years, but I'm excited to return to what feels like my roots. I covered science in Boston for years, where I was lucky to be able to spend time with leading researchers studying stem cells, infant cognition or human evolution. Before that, my whole life was shaped by science -- growing up, my polymer chemist dad and molecular biologist mom would lead dinnertime conversations focused on RNA, denatured proteins or the natural gas law. We had a whiteboard prominently placed in the kitchen, for scribbling diagrams and equations. I worked in a molecular biology lab as a teenager, then studied physics in college.

Don't ask me to solve any problem sets today, but even while I've been thinking and writing about topics that have little to do with science, I've never stopped trying to think like a scientist. Science teaches people to be inquisitive, persistent, analytical and logical; to make predictions about how the world works and then test those ideas with experiments. Even when I've been writing about tax reform or drug pricing, I've tried to stick with a scientist's mindset. I even commute to work each day on a bike that has the equation for the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle anodized onto the top tube.

It's a reminder of the part of physics that always appealed to me most -- the mind-twisting but elegant rules of quantum physics, where reality gets really weird, even if you don't fully understand the math. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle says that you can't know the exact position and the speed of an object at the same time. The closer you get to knowing one, the further you get from the other.


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These tiny monkeys have entered their Stone Age with a bang
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