Chase Your Questions

Be curious.  I wish it was that simple.  You know what is simple?  Sitting in front of the TV and playing videogames.

I was told by a colleague about how rain forests are taking in much more CO2 than previously thought.  I just looked up an article from Science Times and read about what my colleague was saying.  It was clear my colleague argues against climate change and this made me feel uneasy.  The general scientific consensus is that climate change is happening and humans are the cause.

But here’s a problem I ran into.  I couldn’t name studies saying climate change was happening.  I know CO2 is on the rise and the change in temperature is highly correlated.  After that, I am basically stumped.  There are other reports of the glaciers melting and the acidity level of the ocean rising because of the increased temperature, but those aren’t causes of the temperature rising.  They are effects.

What else could be causing the temperature rise?  Another colleague of mine mentioned the sun cycles.  I know little about those.  The rise could be part of a natural earth cycle.  But, what causes that cycle?

Here are some questions to pursue.  If I had more info, then I would have felt better at adding to the conversation.  Though, I could have asked the questions.  In any case, being curious would have been a benefit!

 

Project-based Planning

I’ve been a bum again!  This has been thought way too many times the last few days.

My “free” time has been increased dramatically the last few weeks.  First, I had winter vacation.  Second, we’ve had snow days the last two days.  Yet, I still am not 100% prepared for the upcoming school quarter.  Now, 100% will never be reached, but you would think with all the extra time to prepare I would at least have 3-4 weeks roughly planned.  Nope.  Not even close.

What was I doing with my time?  For Christmas, I received FIFA 15.  I played through an entire season on it and am now on my second season.  Once I started to get the “back-to-school nerves” I distracted myself with the 7th Harry Potter book.  I read it in less than two days.

What I achieved was not helping me get any major projects done.  Leisure time is fine when it is in moderation.  What I was doing was leisure overload.  I find when this happens (yes, it’s happened before) I begin to find the easiest tasks, such as putting away the dishes, just so challenging.  In short, I get uber-lazy.

How can this be avoided?  I can’t tell you for sure, but I have an idea and am experimenting.  What I am doing is planning projects that support my values.  Then, I am setting time aside that is specifically for that project.

Here’s what it looks like.  I make time on Sunday to plan my upcoming week.  I have my list of projects beside me.  Then, I mark on my Google Calendar what I am going to work on at different times.  I know.  Mind blown.  Simple to set up, difficult to maintain.  It takes a lot of discipline to stick to a schedule.  Especially when FIFA 15 is easily available.  But, learning to say no to distractions is a worthy skill to have.

This has been my first week in attempting this.  So far, I’ve spent time working on the project listed during the set time frames.  However, I haven’t gotten all that I thought I’d get done.  Some of the time spent is thinking of what to do.  To counter this, I want to create a list of much simpler and smaller steps of the projects.  Then, I can have this list to view and work off of during the scheduled times.

We are All Scientists

What is this?

My friend Gus exclaimed this question once.  We were excitedly discussing curiosity and the “purpose” of life.  He concluded it simply: to answer that question.  From the moment a human has consciousness, he is attempting to answer that question.  Watch a baby.  A toddler is better.  The curiosity is so easy to spot!

Sadly, many people lose their curiosity.  We can change that.  I have a simple solution and it is simply to ask a question over and over…

What happens if…?

This question guides our life without our knowing.  In social situations, we constantly test our ideas by talking.  In other words, we are asking, “What happens if I say this?”  If others respond nicely, then we will continue to talk about whatever it was we were talking about.  This explains why kittens are all over the internet.  Everyone loves kittens.  However, this also explains why we avoid topics such as politics and religion because those can steer us into a heated debate.

We also use this question in personal situations, such as how much our body can withstand.  Running the Bix 7 is an example.  Many people see if they can beat their old time.  So, they are asking, “What happens to my Bix 7 time if I train a little harder?”  I set little challenges quite often, such as biking 45 miles to my Dad’s house — the farthest I’ve biked before was around 15 miles.

By asking the question repeatedly, we can get our curiosity back.  And being curious is the first step to being a scientist.  Great.  You are a scientist.  So, what do you create as a scientist?

Models – The Products of Science

Above is the model of the solar system (credit: Nassam Haramein).  Scientists have continuously modified the model to better fit the collected data.  We’ve gone from Earth-centered to Sun-centered, to Sun-moving models of the solar system in order for it to better reflect reality.  Note the fact that it changed in order to better reflect reality.

We all have our own models of how the universe works.  We begin developing our model at an early age.  For example, we might conclude that rocks sink in water.  Or, the closer we get to a heat source, the warmer we are.  Also, we may learn to beware of strangers.  But, do our models reflect reality?

Do rocks always sink?  I was surprised to find a rock, which I believe is limestone, floating when I placed it in water.  Not until the gaps filled with water did it sink.

Is the temperature higher every time we are closer to a heat source?  Our winters occur when we are closest to the Sun — I live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Should we beware of strangers?  I’m not sure on this one.  I know I don’t pursue random conversations in part because of this piece of my model.  Though, when I do talk to random people I have always come away alive and well.

We should spend time evaluating our models of reality.  Like the model of the solar system has changed, our models will likely require changes to best reflect reality.  The one good thing about being a scientists is that it is okay to be wrong as long as you correct your model!

Make Time to Explore

“Exploration is really the essence of human spirit.”

Frank Borman


Frank Borman was one of the first humans to go around the moon.  He was able to live the common fantasy of many children.  And many adults too!

There is something about new experiences which is thrilling.  We have people like Felix Baumgartner who chase after the thrills.


We also have people with neophobia, which is a fear of trying new things.  For them, the thrill is just too much!

The majority of us enjoy new things, yet we get stuck in our routines.  We come home, have dinner, and then sit on the computer or watch TV.  Finding new thrills is not part of the routine.

Plan to Be Curious

We love surprises.  Let’s modify our environment to help get them.  One thing we can do is set aside time to pursue questions we have.  For example, I set aside two hours this week to explore any questions that came to mind.  Did you know Einstein and Bohr had debates over the validity of quantum theory?  Anyway, in order to get your mind in the frame of asking questions, act like Wondercat did by starting with, “I wonder…?”

I wonder...?

There are other types of surprises we can plan.  Buy a new food that looks interesting.  Abbie and I once bought a spikey-fruit for the sole reason it looked funny.  I forget its name, but I remember the fun experience.  And as you browse the aisles in the grocery story, say hello to a stranger.  Being talked to randomly is surprising.  If talking to someone is too terrifying, then begin by keeping eye contact with someone longer than they do with you.  Warning: this mini-game can become addicting.

Want a day of surprises?  Then break your routines and have a “No-electronics Day.”  See what happens when digital technology is off the table.

Enjoy the surprises!

Read Often

The Amazing Technology

How has being able to read helped your life?  We communicate daily with text messages.  Thank-you cards are written and, hopefully, received.  The Harry Potter fantasy world was gloriously entered time-after-time.  Plus, the significant other is impressed with all the new foods cooked thanks to the countless recipes on Pinterest.  Oh.  Sorry.  That was my life, not yours.

Well, how has reading benefited the greater civilization?  Violence has been reduced.  This is caused by better understanding of desires between people because reading and writing forced our languages to become standardized.  Also, political laws are easier to uphold when written and agreed upon.  Reading has also advanced technologies.  This was done by spreading knowledge across not just living people, but generations of people.  Our entertainment has benefited because novels, plays, movies, and shows are almost all written down.  Lastly, reading has been shown to benefit the well-being of people.

So, Reading Helped.  Why Should I Do It?

We love being creative.  Reading is a very creative past time.  For one, our minds create the setting and the characters — obviously the author helps a bit too.  Second, we modify or build our ideas about how the universe works by using ideas from the book.

We love feeling important and reading books can cause this feeling.  Finishing a book is satisfying.  I can’t describe the feeling wholly.  Moreover, a book does not progress unless we are engaging it.  This is the opposite of a movie which can be turned on and will play regardless if we are there to watch it or not.  Also, I’ve never experienced the Yes! feeling after finishing a movie.  Lastly, we become more important when we read to others.  This is something Abbie and I do on occasion — on car trips or before bed.

Reading Suggestions

Below is a list of books I encourage you to read.  If a link is present, then my personal reflection on the book will open.