Rock, Fossils and Minerals – Adrian

Before the lecture even started I was already excited to be learning something new because although I had seen this building in passing before I had never gone inside and have never heard anyone talk about it really. So as you may be able to imagine I was a bit shocked when I saw that there was a not just one dinosaur fossil at the entrance but an entire museum of fossils, rock and minerals. I hope sometime in the future that I can make the time to go back and get a visit to see the museum. I thought the presentation put everything together in a single timeline very nicely. In previous lectures speakers have mentioned names that correlate to a certain subject but this was so helpful to put all those names together on a timeline. I loved seeing picture of some of the places we will be visiting while on our trip and getting a little background and suggestions of things to pay attention to while there.

Pasteur Discussion- Adrian Evans

This discussion was very interesting and something that I learned a lot from. Being a science major the name Pasteur is well known to me as a science icon. However I really had no idea how long his list of accomplishments is as before I had really only known of him to be the creator of the swan neck flask and a driving force it practicing sterilization to maintain more accurate and better treatments in the health care system. It was also interesting to hear that while accomplishing all this amazing scientific research he was also going through very rough personal issues of his homeland being invaded by other countries and his personal and familial health struggles. I found it very interesting that he could some what be defined as a function germaphobe I wonder if this is due to all his studies on germs and diseases or the health implications that he and his family were suffering. His laboratory in his parents house is absolutely beautiful and it shows not only is ability as scientist but was kind of a man of many trades as he was able to do the instillation and building of an entire laboratory. I can not wait to learn more about him and see some of his work while on our trip.

Dr. Alber-Anu Timple

I liked learning about Louis Pasteur from Dr.Alber’s talk as I did enjoy some details that she pointed out that I had not known before. One such detail includes how Louis Pasteur’s laboratory looked like. From the labs I have seen, it is such a stark contrast. I personally love nature and love to be outside whenever I can. Because of this, I always love to be in buildings that have lots of windows for natural light as not only do I find it relaxing, but also a good way keep me motivated when doing work. Having such a wide open and naturally well lit laboratory seems like something that would have inspired him to continue working on experiments without getting too fatigued with the process. This was quite important due to the nature of his experiments. I didn’t realize how much work his experiments took, as I didn’t understand that you have to basically create everything from the glass holding containers to the chemicals themselves. Without modern luxuries such as having equipment and supplies readily available, it is even more impressive the lengths he took to not only to create and test experiments, but to further continue so as to find solutions to the problematic discoveries he had made.

Dr. Gnidovec-Anu Timple

When I was young, I used to be obsessed with dinosaurs and listening to Dr. Gnidovec speak about such things brought back a kind of nostalgia for those times when I was younger. I was really fascinated by the connections that Dr. Gnidovec made between the fossils of dinosaurs and about anatomy. I never really made this connection that a lot of the fossils were put together as a result of basic anatomy knowledge from related animals and to see Dr.Gnidovec speak about this was enlightening. I also never thought about the need to be knowledgeable in anatomy in order to have a good understanding of fossils. Additionally, I really enjoyed having almost a preview of dinosaurs that we would  be able to see when going to the museums abroad as now I have a better idea of what to look out for and will have a larger appreciation for what I see. Furthermore, one of the main reasons I really enjoyed Dr.Gnidovec’s talk was because of his passion. I don’t think I will ever meet anyone as passionate about sharing their knowledge of fossils. It was this passion that helped really convey across small details about fossils that I didn’t really think I would have as much of an interest in.

Dr. Otter-Anu Timple

I enjoyed Dr.Otter’s talk as not only did it teach me about how science changes through the ages, but helped me understand the Kuhn readings on a much better level. I thought a really interesting point from the lecture was how facts can be destroyed if society believes so. After hearing that statement, my first reaction was that the statement was not what it seemed as when something is named a fact, it has evidence that follows a logic to prove it. But after thinking about this statement, I realized its truth as that is what has happened repeatedly in history. Something could be an indisputable fact supported by mountains of evidence, but it is not deemed widely as credible unless everyone in society adheres to such a fact. One example of this would be evolution. Despite the amounts of data collected on the subject, some sub communities in the religious world disregard such findings. Resultantly, it is not considered a fact in these communities despite having actual proof to support it. Additionally, the power of the statement that facts can be destroyed by society is immense as it shows that discoveries based in fact can be forgotten. If this happens, science takes a larger amount of time to progress and perhaps some discoveries could be lost forever.

Dr. Alber

Pasteur was a major contributor to science as a microbiologist and experimentalist. His greatest accomplishments included discovering vaccinations for rabies and anthrax, while also developing protocols for pasteurization and researching the role of “germs”. Dr. Alber’s talk was intriguing as we dove into Pasteur’s timeline of these accomplishments. I found it particularly remarkable that Pasteur did most of this work on his own, and also didn’t have a very good laboratory setting for a very long time. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to discover and prove his groundbreaking theories without the adequate resources! I also found it interesting how big of a germaphob he was, especially with the idea that he would move his bed in order to enter his room differently after showering. I really liked the way his lab was set up, and I hope laboratories will become more aesthetic. Even with all of the people opposing him, Pasteur’s drive and passion for science is so motivating and inspiring.

Pasteur Discussion – Savannah Moore

I enjoyed listening to Dr. Alber give a history of Louis Pasteur and his lifetime of scientific thinking. I liked how she started the talk by outlining 3 main questions. We discussed Pasteur as a microbial physiologist who studied microorganisms. Dr. Alber walked us through the many events that took place to lead into Pasteur’s acceptance as a member into the Academy of Science and the Academy of Medicine. We also spent time talking about Pasteur’s life and how politics also shaped the personal and scientific parts of him. The Franco-Prussia War had major impact on the profound Frenchman. Pasteur was forced to move often during the times os unrest, which rattled his life as a scientist with ideas of a laboratory to complete experiments. However, Louis had a laboratory that was built in his childhood home that was very modern. This is now available to view, and Dr. Alber was able to show us images from the home and laboratory. The lab was very modern for the time, and complete with gas lines, modern fume hoods, and an incubation room. Something that particularly interested me was the fact that all of the glassware used was blown by Pasteur himself!

Next, we discussed the main areas of diseases that Pasteur studied. Pasteur investigated the various diseases and looked for practical solutions. Louis was an experimental scientist that enjoyed testing theories to see what gives answers to questions that have been posed. He connected diseases and solutions with the ideas of Germ Theory, and left his mark on the scientific word. The main accomplishment of Louis Pasteur was his studies of diseases to look for practical solutions for the bettering of mankind. He was a man that did his work to help others, and not to just advance himself. This is an important characteristic that made Louis a great scientist.

Dr. Gnidovec on Fossils, Rocks, & Minerals | Gianna Baroni

I’ve never seen someone so passionate and enthusiastic about their job as Dr. Gnidovec and it truly warmed my heart to listen to him ooze about fossils, rocks, bones, and crystals. I had no idea that there was such a beautiful and historical spot on campus. I loved briefly touring the museum afterward and checking out the crystals, manganese dendrites that look like fossils, and of course the actual fossils; the little gift shop was very cute too. I can’t believe that he maintains over 54,000 rocks, minerals, and fossils.

I felt like a little kid again getting excited about dinosaurs and getting to hold some fossils for myself. It’s crazy to think about how species today evolved from these dinosaurs through countless variations that were naturally selected for over such a long period of time (with the help of major events that caused some serious genetic drift of course, but still) and Dr. Gnidovec did a phenomenal job with putting things into perspective.

I was amused at how firmly Thomas Jefferson did not believe in extinction to the point where he told Louis and Clark to look for huge ground sloths on their expedition. I honestly didn’t even know Thomas Jefferson had anything to do with the field of science, but it’s neat that he has a species named after him as a result.

My favorite part of the presentation was, by far, holding the teeth of mastodons and feeling how heavy it was—imagine having to carry around a set of those every day. I still can’t believe someone just dug that adult tooth up from their back yard.

Dr. Otter on Thomas Kuhn | Gianna Baroni

Dr. Otter started off by giving context for Kuhn’s dynamic work that is highly cited in the scientific field through a general timeline of science that emerged from pseudoscience and Kuhn’s influences. He then continued by succinctly defining a paradigm and gave several essential examples of paradigm shifts. He then dived into Kuhn’s work and discussed the accumulation of anomalies leading up to paradigm shifts and the normal science that follows. I liked how he reiterated Kuhn’s points that we always just assume that the textbooks (especially in high school) are automatically correct and that younger generations are more likely to accept a paradigm in comparison to the older generations who have grown up with a previous one. I also liked that he pointed out that scientists don’t just follow paradigms because they believe they are true–they are emotionally, socially, and financially connected to them. Dr. Otter did a great job in conveying the main ideas and providing context regarding Kuhn’s work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, but I would have personally preferred that he went more in-depth with the analysis. I didn’t find it very amusing that he answered questions by either restating his main ideas and not providing further support or just brushing them off completely, but his lecture was informative and gave us a solid foundation for the entirety of the book.

Dr. Mathur on Black Holes and Theoretical Physics | Gianna Baroni

Dr. Mathur’s lecture on black holes and theoretical physics was so inspiring and his evident passion for the subject genuinely reignited my interest in physics. Even though he is so knowledgeable in his field, he introduced these often difficult to understand concepts to us in a way that he made sure we understood, was logical, entertaining, and could be visualized with Dr. Mathur’s help. I loved learning about the nuances in the theories of black holes and realizing how recent these findings are. I think what captured my attention the most was the fact that we still really don’t know how they work and even Einstein didn’t get it completely right. The development of the idea of black holes and the string theory is such a great example of our current paradigm not fully being able to explain the physical world and how there is ongoing research being conducted to support the string theory—the most recent paradigm. Just thinking about dark energy and dark matter blows my mind and I truly appreciate how well Dr. Mathur conveyed this to us.