“Science is primarily an investigation of our place of the Universe — the place that people occupy in a world which ranges from the tiniest subatomic particles to the furthest reaches of space and time. We do not exist in isolation, and science is a human cultural activity, not a purely dispassionate striving after truth, no matter how hard we might try. It is all about where we came from, and where we are going. And it is the most exciting story ever told.”— John Gribbin, in Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science: The Universe, Life and Everything
"Completing a lesson gives you ‘credit’ that you can use to unlock the next lesson, games, and in some cases a useful tool. For example reading a book and writing about it lets you check out more ebooks from the school’s library, or audition for the play. Mastering addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division gives you a four function calculator. Trig and algebra give you a graphing calculator, and completing calculus gives you something like Wolfram Alpha. Completing a unit in science might allow you to sign up for a field-trip or experiment. Participating in a gallery show might upgrade your available art applications from Paint to Photoshop to Maya. Rewarding people for doing good work by giving them more of the same keys both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards."
note: I was trying to find an abstract picture to go with this article when I realized not only was I trying to visually quantify empty space, but empty space inhabited by virtual photons that fleet in and out of existence.
“Our perceptions differ qualitatively from the physical properties of stimuli because the nervous system only extracts certain information from a stimulus and then interprets this information in the context of its earlier experience. We experience electromagnetic waves of different frequencies not as waves but as actual colors that we see: red, blue, or green. We experience objects vibrating at different frequencies as tones that we hear. We experience chemical compounds dissolved in air or water as specific smells or tastes. Colors, tones, smells, and tastes are mental reconstructions created by the brain out of sensory experience. They do not exist, as such, outside of the brain….does a sound exist when a tree falls in the forest, if no one is near enough to hear it? We now believe that the fall causes vibration in the air but not sound. Sound only occurs when pressure waves from the falling tree reach and are perceived by a living being.”—PRINCIPLES OF NEURAL SCIENCE, 3RD EDITION., EDS.. KANDEL, SCHWARTZ, & JESSELL, P. 330
“When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier. In A.D. 1054, a star in the constellation Taurus abruptly increased in brightness by a factor of a million. The Chinese astronomers wrote about it. Middle Eastern astronomers wrote about it. Native Americans of what is now the southwestern United States made rock engravings of it. The star became bright enough to be plainly visible in the daytime for weeks, yet we have no record of anybody in all of Europe recording the event. … True, Europe was in the Dark Ages, so we cannot expect that acute data-taking skills were common, but cosmic events that were ‘allowed’ to happen were routinely recorded. … The Bible says the stars don’t change. Aristotle said the stars don’t change. The Church, with its unmatched authority, declares the stars don’t change. The population then falls victim to a collective delusion that was stronger than its members’ own powers of observation.”—Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries (via sheaintnosaint)