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Does Science Matter?
The Cultural Case

The justification of the role of science in daily life.

Narrator : Lesley Judd

Lesley Judd : So the desire to spread scientific knowledge is put forward for all sorts of reasons, some arguably spurious. The most convincing is all too often ignored - it's fun.

Robin Millar : I think one of the things that's very interesting about the cultural argument is that in a number of occasions when I've done workshops with teachers where I've provided them with a list of well-known bits of the current science curriculum and asked them whether they thought these pieces of knowledge were useful,what emerges if people ask the question hard is that most of the things that we'd really quite like to teach children,the strongest justification is cultural,it's not democratic,and it's not practical.

Lesley Judd : In Bristol,Richard Gregory has taken up the cudgel of spreading scientific knowledge directly to the next generation,by setting up what he's called "The Exploratory". Scientific literacy may not help daily lives,it may not help the economy,it may not help us as voters, [But I think it helps all of the above -LB] but like Shakespeare or the Mona Lisa it's a tremendous cultural achievement that we can all enjoy for it's own sake.
(marble rolls and a bell sounds followed by a child's vocal appreciation of his own achievement)

Richard Gregory : Well what these people have learned is really quite a lot.First of all they've learned that to make it work you have to make little adjustments,one at a time on each mirror, and at first they were bumbling around and changing everything and didn't get anywhere,you have to home in on the answer,then they can compare what happens with a ball bearing with what happens to light,and the answer is the same when the angle is almost a right-angle. When it's an oblique angle (Richard is drowned out by children and marbles) then it's just that the ball starts to spin.So you learn about perfection with light and the imperfection of ordinary objects. There's a lot going behind this game.It's also a lot of fun as I think you can see.It's self motivating,that's what's so interesting about "The Exploratory".They don't just mess around,they really seem to enjoy it as a game and get a lot out of it. I think the main argument for the understanding of science is that one learns to play and to learn from mistakes,proved,and the playing is very essential for it,and this it seems to me is a lifetime adventure,starting from playing around to one's mind being really switched on,and this,I think what life is all about.

Tales of the Expected - Codes

[Some public definitions of "digital"]
Man : Digital - no loss in quality as you transfer,analogue - loss of quality as you transfer. [Check the Roland course on sampling and you'll see this is not true -LB]
Man : Metal particles,you know the thing on your analogue codes...
Man : You know it's not information which people really care about.
Electronics salesman : Everything's going to be digitalised via one signal coming through a digital signal,which is all done like a superhighway sort of multimedia package.
Host : All "digital " means is that information is turned into numbers.
Man : The computer can only understand a one or a zero,the closer you zoom into the picture,the more you can see the dots that make up the structure.We can actually save that and compress the image,by describing it in a different way,instead of saying "pink dot,pink dot,pink dot,pink dot," we can change it and say there's 16 times pink dots,which is easier to write down than pink dot 16 times,and therefore saves space.It all comes down to the one binary form.

Intro | The Practical Case | The Economic Case | The Democratic Case | The Cultural Case





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OU:Does Science Matter? File Info: Created 24/8/2000 Updated 3/6/2015 Page Address: