2006-09-20

Some Science

I just want to mention two articles I read today.

The first one is from Scientific American and talks about what it is that makes a genius. Or, rather a grand master in chess. Most of the article talks about how the mind works for the best chess players and then generalize about the theories to other disciplines. So, how does experts think, and what makes their brain work this way? The answer is both rather surprising and liberating. It seems that to acquire the mental model of an expert all that is needed is practice. Experts learn to see patterns and these pattern evolve in the brain through practice, practice and practice. So, what about wonder kids? They just start early and work hard. And working hard is an important ingredient. You have to keep challenging yourself with problems that are slightly more difficult that what you can handle, thereby constantly pushing yourself. So, anyone can be an expert, it just takes passion and perseverance.

The other article really surprised me. It's a list of bogus science that nevertheless have had an impact on what we believe. Take a look at item no. 4. It discusses an observation about moths changing colors. This has been used as an example of evolution happening right in front of us. And I've taken it as proof that evolution really happens today. But it seems that it was all totally bogus. So have anyone observed evolution happening without relying on old fossils and various dating methods? It would be interesting to know.
[EDIT: It seems I shouldn't have been so quick to believe that web page. Here are some links that goes in to a bit of discussion around the peppered moth experiments.]

2 comments:

Andy said...

I'd be a bit wary of taking a paragraph on a random web page as evidence that the moth experiment was "all totally bogus"!

Josef said...

Indeed Andy. I should at least have check with some other sources before drawing any conclusions. Thanks for pointing it out.