Anonymous: What advice would you give a high school student who wants a career in physics but is constantly being told not to?
Normally I would say: don’t listen to them, do it.
But today I’m not feeling that optimistic, so my advice is to be realistic and consider the path you are planning to take not just from the point of view of your love for the matter, but also from an economic perspective. I know it sounds cold, but even if passion for something is important (and it really is), when it comes to make a crucial choice like this, we must acknowledge that the job market is a hard place right now, and that maybe there are wiser alternatives that could allow you to cultivate you passion and at the same time find a job (and I’m not saying that with a phd in physics you can’t find a job, I’m saying is much much more easy if you are a computer engineer).
You think? Thanks.
Instead just today I was saying to a friend that scipsy has lost something, maybe it’s because I don’t have anymore the motivation I had when I started, maybe it’s that I see a lot of other science tumblrs making a great job and I feel I am not bringing anything original anymore, and I was thinking about changing my editorial line in some way to try and make scipsy more interesting.
Anonymous: Going along with the question about determinism, do you think the uncertainty principle disputes absolute determinism in a way?
Another follower, dendodge, replying to the same post argued:
But determinism is impossible, thanks to Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle. I know that’s a physical, rather than biological/psychological thing, but it has to have an effect on the workings of our neurones…
The thing is not as simple as it may seem.
I quote from the introduction:
[…] determinism is far from a dead issue. Whether or not ordinary non-relativistic quantum mechanics(QM) admits a viable deterministic underpinning is still a matter of debate. Less well known is the fact that in some cases QM turns out to be more deterministic than its classical counterpart.
That said, if you ask to me, I would say that the uncertainty principle doesn’t falsify determinism.
Yes, I agree with determinism, but I think that biology is not the only factor involved, so I don’t believe in a strict biological or genetic determinism. I’m more inclined to think that there is a complex interaction between biological and environmental (also cultural) factors.
About a year ago I asked my followers what were the science books that influenced them most, and the answers included:
- The fabric of cosmos - Brian Greene
- This is your brain on music - Daniel Levitin
- Cosmos - Carl Sagan
- The selfish gene - Richard Dawkins
- Six Easy Pieces - Richard Feynman
- Physics of the impossible - Michio Kaku
- A brief history of time - Stephen Hawking
- A short history of nearly everything - Bill Bryson
- Phantoms in the brain - V.S. Ramachandran
- Chaos - James Gleick
And many others…You could start looking at this list (and maybe some follower can suggest other books here).
For me I could tell you what are the last two science books I read (the fact is, I’m not a really fast and/or constant reader):
Everything and more, a book written by David Foster Wallace about infinite that focuses on the work of mathematician Georg Cantor (I loved the first part, the one I understood); and The impact of science on society by Bertrand Russell (I expected more from this book, it was too simple for me).
Many of my colleagues believe that to be a good psychologist you need some sort of talent, and they identify this talent with empathy. I think this is not true. You don’t need any talent to be a good clinical psychologist, because psychology is not some misterious art, it is an set of theories and techniques, and to be a psychologist all you need to do is to learn them. The difference is just this: my colleagues believe you can learn the theory but not the “doing" of psychology, because for them to be a psychologist involves some inner special quality, that they call empathy, while I think you can learn to be a psychologist just like you learn to be a interpreter, an engineer or a lawyer.
So, my opinion is basically this: you don’t need empathy to be a good clinical psychologist. Well…no. Of course a psychopath (psychopaths are known to lack of empathy) would be not a good psychologist.
You need empathy, but you don’t need to be especially talented in empathy.
To be a photographer you need sight, but you don’t need to be a sniper. At the same way, to be a psychologist you need empathy, but you don’t need more empathy than any other person.
I could talk and talk and talk about this, about why they believe this thing, and why this belief is detrimental to psychology as a profession and to the clients, and about more other stuff, but it would become boring so I stop.
Mirror neurons are a group of neurons discovered by an italian group of researchers at the University of Parma.
We have some neurons called ordinary motor command neurons that fire when we perform an action, such as make a jump or throw a ball and we have mirror neurons, that, basically, fire every time we see another person make a jump, just in the same way they would fire if I make a jump. Mirror neurons seem involved also in the decoding of other people facial expressions, and for example, if I see another person showing an expression of fear, the mirror neurons in my brain would fire like if I was afraid. These findings suggest that mirror neurons have, at least, something to do with empathy and many researchers think that they are its basis.