Shoulders of Giants
This picture was taken at the Royal Society while I was paging through the manuscript of Newton’s Principia. The caption, “Shoulders of Giants” refers to Isaac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Seeing some of the amazing books in the Royal Society’s archives was one of the highlights of the trip. Newton’s work changed the world, and many of our modern technologies were made possible by standing on the shoulders of giants such as Newton. This moment not only fit really well with the theme of the class, but it was also a meaningful personal moment for me.
How’d People Survive???
This was the question on my mind the entire time we were at the Old Operating Theater. I’ve always been kind of morbidly interested in the gruesome history of medicine, always glad that I live in the days of antiseptic. Learning about medical history always makes me wonder what kinds of procedures we do today that will someday seem outdated and crazy. For example, today we would never crowd hundreds of people into an operating room to observe a surgery the way that they did in this operating theater. The entire operating theater presentation just made me want to wash my hands!
Come From Away
I learned a lot about musicals while I was in London, thanks to Emma! While we were walking around Soho one night, she pointed out a Come From Away poster and we talked about the plot – a bunch of people stranded in Canada after their flights to the U.S. were redirected after the 9/11 attacks, and a story about their humanity. Our situation with the COVID-19 pandemic was nowhere near as severe as being stranded on foreign soil, but it did significantly shape our experience abroad. The U.S. response to the pandemic was changing daily, and due to our canceled France trip, there was a period where we didn’t know exactly when we’d be coming home. Without all the changes, we wouldn’t have gotten to see Stonehenge, or the Salisbury Cathedral. Our experiences over the next several months will probably not be what we had planned for – there will be canceled trips, online classes, heightened anxiety – but there will no doubt be some unexpected positives, like seeing Stonehenge (and getting photographic evidence of our inability to practice social distancing). Maybe I’ll spend some of my time in quarantine reading the true stories that Come From Away is based on.
I really enjoyed interviewing Dr. Brzezinska for this project. Though it got cut short in the final version presented to the class, Dr. Brzezinska shared very insightful advice based on her experiences as a woman in science and engineering. I’ve wanted to be an engineer since 9th grade, so I’ve gotten used to being in classes with mostly men. Talking to Dr. Brzezinska reminded me to stay aware of how I behave in classes – do I stand back and allow others to answer questions I know the answers to? Do I defer to the guys in my group projects for expertise, even though I’ve taken the same classes as they have? I notice myself STILL doing these things sometimes, always without realizing it, and working on this project reminded me that I should pay attention to these behaviors and correct them. I belong on that engineering team, in that classroom, in that Mission Control Center just as much as the guys do.
Other than my own portion of this project, I really enjoyed hearing all of the other topics my classmates studied. I didn’t realize Ohio State had so many prominent researchers and discoveries in its history! One that stood out to me was the discovery of the feline leukemia vaccine. I have three pet cats, and am very grateful to Dr. Richard Olsen for this discovery.
I think this project should be continued in future years of this course. It made me appreciate how much OSU has contributed to society, and makes me more aware of the importance of research institutions around the world.
I found this lecture fascinating because it provided the first comprehensive, clear explanation of black holes that I’d heard and it answered a lot of questions I didn’t know I had! I really enjoyed Dr. Mathur’s presentation style and this presentation gave me a new appreciation for Dr. Hawking’s work. It’s amazing how many questions we still have about the universe, and physics is an excellent example of phenomenon of having more and more questions with each answer we find. I found it interesting that the size of stable stars is limited, meaning that the size of black holes is limited, except there is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Where did that supermassive black hole come from? I found it exciting that we don’t have an answer for that yet! I also have a much greater appreciation for the work it took to be able to obtain this image of a black hole. I understand it so much better now, and enjoyed learning about how the light can bend preferentially in one direction vs. the other based on the black hole’s rotation.
Image from https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2019/4/19/how-scientists-captured-the-first-image-of-a-black-hole/
I had no idea that there were 10,000 medicinal plants and only 3,000 food plants! I wonder what resources our commercialized pharmaceutical approaches might be missing out on, but perhaps not that many since 71% of our current medicines can be traced back to their original ethnobotanical uses. This presentation made me wonder how the uses for drugs are discovered. For example, the “Ordeal Bean” – how did researchers know to test its effectiveness for treating glaucoma, rather than the countless other ailments that affect us? I had never thought about this before, but now that I have, it’s given me a new appreciation of how incredible an achievement it is to produce an effective and safe drug. Dr. Kinghorn’s presentation has made me really interested in botany and medicinal plants, and I might try to visit Kew Gardens. I also had no idea that black pepper and other spices could be used to enhance the ability of certain drugs to enter the bloodstream, and I thought that was interesting.
I watched the episode “Out of Thin Air” of the documentary the Mystery of Matter. I was expecting the story portrayed in this episode to focus solely on Lavoisier and Priestly, but was surprised to find that it spent more time explaining the connections between Lavoisier, Priestly, Davy, Volta, and others. When studying the history of science, it can be easy to see discoveries as discrete points that belong only to a single person (or a single team working together). This documentary, however showed how similar scientific efforts in history can be to today’s efforts. Though I’m not sure how common being “scooped” is, as Priestly was by Lavoisier, the idea of beating competitors to publication and the manifestations of different personalities in science stood out to me as similarities to today’s scientific world.
It’s amazing to think of a time when people didn’t know about microbes. Today the awareness of microbes is not only an important part of routine healthcare, but is frequently at the front of our mind as we engage in habits to avoid getting sick. Louis Pasteur’s story was interesting for me because the resistance of the community and government officials to his ideas reminds me of modern-day resistance to evidence of climate change. Showing the existence of microbes and developing vaccines for them changed the world. I imagine the climate science community must feel similar frustrations as Pasteur did.
Regarding Pasteur’s motivations for his work, I think it would make sense that some of his motivation might come from the Franco-Prussian War. This idea helped me to humanize Pasteur in my mind, rather than thinking of him only in terms of his work. When I think in terms of the person, trying to understand their motivations, hardships, interests, etc., it helps me draw similarities between me and them, which I’ve found to be a source of encouragement.
As a side note, I like that Pasteur’s first major discovery was the asymmetry of crystals. I’m studying materials science, and crystallography is the foundation for the curriculum. Learning about characteristics of crystals and how these characteristics affect macroscopic properties of objects is really exciting for me.
As a woman pursuing a STEM field, I enjoyed Dr. Breitenberger’s lecture on women in science. I’m very interested in space and astronomy, so I had heard of William Herschel, but not his sister, Caroline. I wish I had learned about her sooner because when I first got interested in these areas, I saw that most of the well-known astronomers in history were men. Though I had plenty of modern-day women to look up to as role models, I wish I had known about the female scientists in history. Revisiting the obstacles they faced made me more appreciative of the position I am in today, where I can pursue science and engineering without anyone questioning my credibility or taking my work. Some issues these historical female scientists faced still exist today, but it is because of their efforts that I am able to pursue these goals freely today.
I enjoyed Dr. Gnidovec’s enthusiasm for geology. I didn’t know before his talk that North America was the place of so many fossil discoveries, so that exciting for me to learn about. As a hands-on learner, I enjoyed getting to see the items he passed around, especially the amenite. I’m studying materials science so I usually see materials from an engineering perspective, asking questions about it’s applications, strength, and other properties. Seeing items from the natural world was interesting for me because I still looked at them with the materials engineer’s thought process, but with the added excitement of evolution being the reason for the structures these animals developed for their teeth, shells, etc.
It was interesting to hear about the perspectives of ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, and how they thought of the natural world with typological thinking, not focused on variations between species. I hadn’t heard this term before. I also enjoyed learning about the scientists leading up to Darwin – Hutton, for example, whose work gave Darwin the concept of “deep time,” which was necessary for his theory of evolution to be viable. To contrast with scientists like Hutton, Rev. Paley reinforced concepts that Darwin’s work would ultimately have to overcome (example: species can’t evolve because they are already perfectly adapted). Overall, I enjoyed learning more details about Darwin to help fill in the gaps left by the movie.