Bizarre Science Ideas, and Other Caffeinated Ramblings ((By Jade))

Do I keep referencing coffee in all my posts?  I didn’t realize I had such an addiction, but the blog speaks for itself.  In any case, coffee makes math more exciting, so I think it’s OK.

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We talk a lot about abstract science in class.  Which is a new way to think about science and genetics, since I was originally drawn to the field because it made so much sense.  Everything was big systematic pieces broken down into smaller systematic pieces, and some old dude had already come up with a formula to explain how and why this all works, and so I assumed we could all sit back and say, “Yup, that’s why that happens.”

I came to graduate school wanting to pat Gregor Mendel on the back and high-five Watson and Crick.  I wanted to say, “Thanks, guys, now teach me what you know and send me off into the world to make some money.”  Unfortunately, Mendel, Watson, and Crick didn’t know the half of things…and now we we’re taught to stay skeptical.  It’s not just dominant versus recessive genes anymore.  Genetics is more often than not flipped on its head by molecular nuances and stochastic events that simply have no explanation.  And to really drive this point – that not everything is how we might think it is– we’ve gone through a couple amazing (I think they’re amazing), mind-trick puzzles.  I really wanted to share these, because I think they’re fun, and also great to bring up at parties and make lots of friends (as long as you go to really nerdy parties).

This thought experiment is called Schrödinger’s cat, and was actually introduced to us by one of my classmates.  Read the blurb, watch the video, and hopefully it will make a little bit of sense.

I had originally been introduced to this second experiment after reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. This novel is told through the eyes of a 15 year old autistic boy, who recounts a murder mystery tale of sorts.  It’s fascinating insight into the mind of someone with autism, and very interesting to read how he was able to keenly work through abstract math problems.

One of the math problems introduced in the book is known as the Monty Hall problem.  Here’s a movie clip from “21” that explains it well.

For the explanation, I actually like wikipedia’s page: Monty Hall Problem

That’s my philosophical genetics for you all, hopefully you scratched your head in a good way (without wanting to fight someone about the answer to that dang Monty Hall problem).


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