: Make a pinhole camera!

I don’t know how to do that! 

OT: some days ago I bought for a ridiculously low price a Zenit-EC in a flea market. Sadly it’s broken, the shutter doesn’t work (I guess I should have known given the price).


: Do you and/or your followers can suggest any websites where one can find worldwide graduate school rankings for Science majors? Google-fu is not helping. (Also: Not a Tumblr user, but I love your blog! :D)

Try this: Academic Ranking of World Universities.


: Why do you think in our ever-growing technological world, where every phone is smart and everything is digitized, that people are still afraid of or uninterested in science when it pertains to weather, medicine and space travel?

I don’t know. I guess it’s because unlike to ordinary, ready to use technology, science can be hard, counterintuitive, challenging and also uncomfortable.  


: I'm not sure if you're familiar with the "didyouknow" tumblr, but I think enough information reblogged from it regarding science might be inaccurate or questionable enough to question someone with a science degree (such as yourself) the validity of it. Check it out. (If you don't mind, of course.)

I know did you know? butI don’t like it very much, and like you I feel that sometimes their posts are inaccurate. However, it has the merit to always cite the sources of information for its posts, so it’s not hard to spot if the statement in one of its post is inaccurate or if the information are trustworthy.


: I don't know if follow ups are normally the done thing but I'm interested as to how you think science can move closer to painting a real description of reality if science will always be subject to the driving force and reason of humans, which is by nature not logically perfect? I guess this ties into our access to reality a little bit.

I didn’t say a “real” description of reality, I said a better description of reality.

Anyway, science can move forward toward “truth” through two of its key feature: empiricism and self-correction. The goal of attaining better description is to be able to make more accurate predictions.

From this point of view science is fairly different from every other human attempt to understand the world, because when someone asks: “How do you know if this is true?” scientists say: “I’ve tested it and it works. Try.” And you can try.

That’s empiricism and self-correction. That’s science.

In science there’s always someone trying to discover uncharted territories that will change our previous knowledge of what the world really is.


: There was a previous question regarding your tone towards individuals with schizophrenia. I am not judging your perspective. However, if you do believe in treating persons with schizophrenia or other mental illness like you would any other person, why would you call them "Schizophrenics" and "Mentally Ill people"? Why do you not use person-first language?

If you read this post, in the last lines, I say exactly that I do never refer to a person as “schizophrenic” but instead I use expressions like: “a person with schizophrenia”. 

However, in another post, I indeed used the expression “a mentally ill person”. Well, that’s the same post in which I used the expression “sane people” and scify85 (thank you) wrote me a message saying that in English:

sane and insane are legal terms having to do with the ability to distinguish right from wrong, not psychological ones denoting the presence of mental illness

English is not my first language, and, as you can see reading what I write, my English is far from flawless. When I wrote “mentally ill person” I followed the rule that in English adjectives are placed before nouns without thinking much about an alternative. I will be more careful in the future.

Anyway, I have to say I received mixed feedbacks about that post. Some people say I used a tone that seems to portrait people with mental illness negatively, others instead wrote me that they didn’t feel at all my tone as insensitive. While the second kind of comments were more numerous than the first, this made me think.

I try to use words carefully because I think they are important. Unfortunately my English is not as good as I would like it to be, and I often feel this limits the way I can express myself (left aside the fact that often people seems not to grasp the tone of my posts, especially when I’m sarcastic).

While I try to improve my English, feel free to correct me and write to me whenever you feel that something I have written is disrespectful to someone. At the very least we will share some opinions.


: Really liked the phil. post. I used to be very into it before I started studying science. since then, don't really invest too much certainty in it, at least on scientific q's. I think the wave-particle duality demonstrates that philosophy and logic only take us so far, and that ultimately, you gotta do tests to know s/t. (btw, saw an opinion article in the NYT the other day, "philosophy is not a science," which tries to defend phil, but I think precisely demonstrated its flaws.) thanks!

I agree with you, when it comes to scientific questions, “thinking deeply”* is not enough, and we must use the scientific method. Philosophy is definitely not science, but that’s ok. We have science to do science’s works. Philosophy helps us in other domains.



: After seeing that last question reference your interest in philosophy I wondered what you thought about Khun's thesis on the paridigmatic nature of science, he seemed to think that too the extent that science is a conceptual schema it shapes the way we think the world really is but this is not based in how the world really is, rather it is based in something less rational like a widely held view which is held until the vanguard of the view die off. Do you believe in scientific/objective reality?

Kuhn thought science progresses through revolutions: a certain central paradigm of science is substitute by another when the second shows it can explain more about reality and that it can solve problems the predecessor can’t. 

I think that with his thesis of scientific progress through revolutions Kuhn tried to better explain that science is not an uniform and linear process of accumulation of knowledge about the world. I think his description of scientific progress was quite accurate in 1962 (The year ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ was published). I don’t think it’s an accurate picture of what science is today.

But to answer your question: I think science is the better way we have to get progressively closer to what the world really is, I think that a certain scientific paradigm is not just a widely accepted description of the reality, it’s the better description of reality. However I doubt there will be a day in which we will say: “That’s it. That’s definitely it. That’s how Nature works. Our job is done”. 

I’m also aware that science is not an all logical, all rational machine that produces pure knowledge. Science is a human enterprise, and this means that it can be affected by human flaws and limitations. But it has good antibodies against them.


: Does your interest in philosophy affect your outlook on science in general?

Well at first (I was ingenuous) I thought philosophy was alternative to science, but what then happened is that my interest in philosophy pushed me into science and helped me understand it better. So, my interest in philosophy affected my outlook on science and now my interest in science affects my interest in philosophy too (for example I have become more and more fascinated by epistemology/philosophy of science).

One domain in which my (quite small) understanding of philosophy really shaped my understanding of science is in knowing to analyze an argument used to support a theory, and tell if it’s a good argument or a silly one. I find this ability really helpful for psychology, a field full of untested theories.


: What is your opinion about the movie "Apollo 18"?

I heard it is good, but I didn’t watch it yet.