Monday, February 14, 2011

Scientific Rules

There’s no such thing as an unbreakable scientific rule, because, sooner or later, they all seem to get broken. Or to change. (from Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle)

Quote stolen from this great blog...

This quote caught my eye as a chemistry student and a chemistry teacher.

I don't know how many times I heard some prof say (or myself say), "Okay you were taught this in Gen Chem, but this is how it really is..."

It's not like we are teaching incorrect information, but as most people will agree, Chemistry is hard. You can't begin teaching quantum theory when your students don't even know where the electrons are relative to the nucleus.

I remember sitting in some advanced chemistry class my senior year of my undergraduate education. The professor just blew our minds in explaining something that was not at all what we thought was going on in that chemistry. I remember my friend Melanie said, "We're learning that nothing in General Chemistry was true." Not quite, but still, her quote reflected how we felt.

"There's no such thing as an unbreakable scientific rule, because, sooner or later, they all seem to get broken. Or to change."

I do love the idea that theories and ideas change. That's what makes science - science. I'll close with a story I tell my General Science students every semester to illustrate how our ideas about how the world works change.

Dr. Baxter, my chemistry professor for my gen chem and pchem classes, was once explaining some complicated theory. He suddenly stops and explains, "Of course, we could have all this day in Heaven, God might tell us, 'You didn't have any of this right.' But, you still have to know it for the test."


Alyson said...

Awww, I loved Dr. Baxter. He was the best. There are very few specific things I remember professors telling me, but one I do remember was from Dr. Baxter. When we did our sophomore year evaluations to see if we should, in fact, all be biology students, he told me that my "mission" or "calling" from God right now was to be the best student I could be. It really stuck with me and meant a lot.

Sara said...

Wow, how often do you hear someone in the scientific community 1) admit that they may be wrong and 2) speak freely about God. I think I would have enjoyed this Dr. Baxter. :)