Thursday, May 1, 2008

Who Knew? Universities are the Enemy?

Glenn Beck (while admittedly a sad source for any reliable information) interviewed Ben Stein about his new movie, Expelled. While I have yet to see the film, I'm already hopelessly disappointed in a man that I thought had more brains than this. Its not that he follows intelligent design, I don't have anything against people choosing to believe what they believe. It's that he has the nerve to think that the scientific community in universities, professors, research scientists, educated minds (a group of men and women whom I see myself hopefully joining the ranks of in the coming years) are part of a larger conspiracy to keep intelligent design under wraps. That scientific journals keep papers on ID out on purpose. No, scientific journals keep papers that don't show sound scientific thought out on purpose. We have yet to prove the existence of G-d, therefore it can not be used as an axiom.

I could write a paper "water is really green, our eyes are mistaken, cause G-d said so." And quote some bible sources. And I WOULD NOT GET PUBLISHED. Not because water isn't really green, but because Genesis and Exodus (while amazing to read) are not scientific sources (yet).

If I could demonstrate some light abortion within the retina that displaces the spectrum and causes water to appear blue... ok, now we are getting somewhere. You need a hypothesis, not a quote. Even then, I highly doubt Nature or Science would publish me. Scientific journals are highly selective - so stop whining!

Of course, people who indoctrinate ID do not do the same thing? No, of course not... [sarcasm]

PS - If dinosaurs and mankind existed together, and the dinosaurs died out, why did G-d create them in the first place? They must have lasted what, a few hundred years? Pfft. Did G-d make a mistake? Or did dinosaurs exist as the most energy efficient creatures for millions of years until global catastrophe?

Anyways, before his interview Glenn Beck says, and I quote:

"Our kids in college aren't being taught. They're being force fed one liberal, socialist, anti-american point of view, one right after another..."

I'm sorry, but the professors I know are on the pursuit of greater knowledge. They teach what they know, based on the research and findings from professors and researchers before them. Based upon what they know as best as possible to be true. Theories and research get updated and changed all the time, and thus education evolves. But I don't remember a group of professors getting together and deciding "No, we will not allow this theory or that theory in any publication ever."

However, creationism, while often cited as a science, is not. It is an axiom for religion (well, multiple religions). And its our interpretation of an axiom, which means it may not even be correct. Humans suck at interpreting things, and we often get it wrong.

Now, don't go away too quickly from this. Just because creationism has holes, does not make Darwinism flawless. Darwin has some great ideas, but there are alternative theories to evolution as well (that are scientifically based) that are reasonable. Lamarckism for one. Doesn't mean they are all wrong, or all right. But ID just isn't scientifically based. It's belief based.

And I certainly believe in G-d. But I also see that its naive to think that we have figured everything out already and yes, G-d just made everything appear. I think it's a lot more complicated than that. Why can't "appear" mean "evolve" from starting ingredients? (See previous post)

It's also important to note, for those creationists out there, that I respect the fact that you believe G-d created the world and life in all its glory. (So do I). G-d created life does not answer the question, it displaces it. Now its, "where did G-d come from?" 

As a supporter of evolution and a believer in G-d, I get both :-).

Just a thought.

Afterthought: Darwin. Dawkins. Darwin. Dawkins.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


So what's the deal? Why are religion and science fighting? Back in the day, (I mean way back in the day, like when Galileo almost found himself executed for saying the earth revolved, not the sun, and earlier) religion used to be "science". The CATHOLIC CHURCH commissioned the mapping of the stars (see Tycho Brahe) to try to understand G-d's plans. The church was the scientific institution. The first printed book? The bible!

So why is it today that you are either a Creationist or a Scientist? Why are the Big Bang and the Genesis two separate things? Why are there people who refuse to take their kids to the doctors because "G-d will save them"?

Things like this always drive me nuts. I have my own religious beliefs, just as everyone else does. And I completely respect what other people believe, when it doesn't mean the end of someone else's (or their own) life! Someone who chooses to "pray" over going for a simple doctor's visit, is just asking for death. It doesn't matter if you are jewish, muslim, catholic, or etc. etc. all religions teach similar things - that G-d provides you with the strength and tools you need in life. In my opinion, that includes the ability to hop in the car and go to a doctor, who him/herself was given the ability to help the sick, who in turn have the tools to diagnose and treat illnesses.

"If I cross the street without looking I won't get hit by a car because G-d will protect me." No, IDIOT! G-d gave you the ability to turn your head two directions before walking to the other side of the road. The rest is up to you.

Anyways, enough of that rant. You see, I'm definitely a scientist at heart. I look for answers in everything, a why and a how. Now, in MY opinion, science does not disprove the existence of G-d. Nor does it prove it, like the gene guy in this link claims. I think that science and G-d are one in the same. Our discoveries of the mysteries of the universe, atoms, molecules, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, art... they are all results of mankind unraveling how the universe works. G-d will still obey the laws of nature and the universe. We just haven't figured them all out yet.

There is an interesting book by Gerald Schroeder called Genesis and the Big Bang where he claims to have discovered how the Big Bang really did take 6 days (give or take a few hours). How mathematical calculations and Einstein's theories, coupled with relevant texts in the Torah (Old Testament) are aligned and are equivalent. While I don't necessarily agree with Dr. Schroeder in everything he has to say, it's interesting to think about how it is entirely possible to have a world that is governed by both a religion and science and have them support each other.

Creationism? Ok, sorry guys... I'll be blunt. That I do not subscribe to. While Darwin didn't get it completely right, his theory is pretty darn solid. We can see the evidence, etc. etc. I don't need to convince anyone who is reading this. But why can't the story of Creation and Evolution be one in the same? Maybe there is just something WE don't yet understand. Evolution does not say there is no G-d. On the contrary, it just says G-d is more mysterious than we really know. To me, creationism sounds like "some mysterious something blinked and everything appeared." If that were true, be careful, gravity might just turn off tomorrow. Or existence could be blinked right out again in a second - so who cares about laws, let's party like its judgement day!

I'm always cautious about religious subjects because people can be pretty passionate about what they believe in. I just wish people would stop and think sometimes (especially before they head out with bombs strapped to themselves, or completely armed in the name of their G-d, or start protesting funerals) that maybe we scientists aren't the enemy. We're just trying to help understand.

To me, G-d is just a really great engineer :-).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Water water everywhere...

Thanks to for the image

A few weeks ago, a press release was... well, released... regarding bacteria found in snowflakes. Snowflakes require a nucleation point (a place where the crystal starts to grow). Often times is a spec of dust, but apparently more often, it's bacterial. Now, the study (LSU) found that the majority of the bacteria was Pseudomonas Syringae, a plant based rod-like bacteria. As far as we know, that won't make people sick.

However, who's to say that the bacteria (or viruses perhaps?) that make up the rest of rain and snow isn't the kind that will? WAIT! STOP! Go out, stick out your tongue, catch a snowflake and enjoy! I will the next time there is a snowstorm! Go out and sing in the rain! I'm certainly NOT ranting like some paranoid schizophrenic that everything that touches us will make us sick.

But... stop and think for a minute. Countless numbers of droplets of water fall to the earth in every rainstorm. And, without a doubt, every time there is a rainstorm SOMEONE goes outside without an umbrella and catches a cold. Why? Because getting wet makes you sick? OH NO, STOP SHOWERING! Of course not. But it's certainly possible, in my humble opinion, that somewhere on your body, during the rainstorm, enough bacteria/viruses fell on your skin to activate your immune system - making you feel sick (i.e. the runny nose, etc.). Now with your immune system already vulnerable, perhaps here comes the rest of the cold.

Or maybe, the fact that in rain storms we tend to stay inside more, just allows that bacteria to incubate and get us sick. Or Both. (Or Neither - how's that for a disclaimer?)

This seems to be the same rationale against people who think that going outside in the cold without a jacket will get you a cold. An old mother's legend. There is no reason to think that a chilly day will make you sick just by standing in it for a few minutes. Staying inside with lots of people has a better chance of that - cough cough. But those snowflakes... with their little bacteria inside... might just help the process get started.

Am I right? Probably not. Am I going to stop going out in the rain or snow? Definitely not. But its sometimes interesting to think about our world around us and how we never know what exactly gave you the sniffles. Especially as my wife and I sit here fighting our fevers and sore throats, I wonder who it was that gave it us.

Just a thought.


Hello! I'm Adam - I'm a first year graduate student at MIT for engineering.

I often find my mind wandering about a million topics - now I'm certainly no expert in most of them - but sometimes I find it helps for me to jot down what I'm thinking. Sometimes, when I share, I get some positive feedback. So I thought, what better way to start discussions and debate, than to put them on the web for people to see.

Also, I don't consider myself to be some brainiac or anything like that. I just like to throw out some possibilities that I come up with - life is so complex and interesting you never know when you'll get one right. (And just because I go to MIT, no I can't turn your gas guzzling car into a flying hydrogen powered supervehicle, I can't calculate pi out to 1,000 digits, and for goodness sakes - I can't "hack the internets")

However, I also find that I'm interested in blogging for a more philanthropic nature. You see, I'm very lucky in that I'm married to a beautiful, sweet, amazing girl who has stuck by me for already five years in a lot of stress and long distance. Now we are together in Boston both as PhD students and working with each other side by side to help each other achieve our goals. It was a challenging road getting us both into graduate schools together, let alone as individuals.

So while I will often be posting my own thoughts, I'm also very happy to help anyone who is on their way to college, or grad school, or neither, and is looking for advice along their journey. I, of course, can only speak (or write in this case) from personal experiences, but I'd be happy to share my thoughts to try and help in any way. Especially those who, like my wife and I, are finding the two body problem to be particularly challenging.

So enough about the blog, head over to PhD Comics to get some great insight into the life of a grad students (it's not allll true... but pretty close) and then come on back. Oh, and welcome!

Search Engine Optimisation