Nov 21 2012
Blog Post: The Dot Project
Today is a great day. For a long time I have been wanting to present science to people in a unique way. Over the years, I have been told that I have a good way of explaining things. I am not sure what that way is, but I do know the key factor in whether or not I can explain something. That factor is understanding. If I understand something, I can explain it. I suspect, although I have no way to prove this, that anyone can explain something, if they truly understand it. For this reason, my arch nemesis is quantum mechanics. My goal is to explain the history of science all the way from Issac Newton to quantum mechanics. The vast majority of proponents of quantum mechanics are either unable and unwilling to explain it. Responses such as "if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics" are common. The few who do attempt to explain it, use math so advanced that vast majority of people will never have access to the explanation. Some claim it cannot be fully explained or simply define it as not understandable by humans. Many claim that its unintuitive nature is the reason why they can't explain it, however, this does not explain why we have no trouble understanding countless other counter-intuitive concepts once we know the concept in counter-intuitive. Many will laugh at this statement, but I do not believe for a second that anything cannot be explained in simple terms, and the end result of this project will be me explaining to everyone wanting to learn, exactly how it works. As with all of the other knowledge that we will accumulate together over the course of this project, you will understand everything, easily and in perfect clarity. Your brain will never have to struggle because the process of understanding (which you will also learn) is easy and natural. Everything you have ever struggled to learn is not the fault of your intellect, but the fault the person(s) compiling or presenting the information. That is the key to this project. Ultimately, it addresses my endless frustration with the confusing way science and math information is presented and with the great amounts of frustration and wasted time that this results in.
There's a catch. Fortunately it's exactly what we need. The catch is, I don't know that much about science. The majority of my research in science has been limited to the field of evolutionary theory. Because I was raised in a fundamentalist religious environment, I had to find out if evolutionary theory actually made any sense or not. What I came to understand in this quest, was far more than the theory of evolution, which although beautiful in its simplicity, is possibly the most powerful idea ever conceived by a human. Upon realizing that one of the greatest truths to enter the scientific vocabulary was not at all understood by the majority of people (even those supporting it), I came to understand that great truths are invisible to the naked eye. They cannot be understood by simply reading a passage, looking at a drawing, or watching a demonstration. There is a process by which understanding is born. That process, which we call learning, is also not at all understood. This is the root of the problem. The simple of act learning is rarely demonstrated in schools and is primarily replaced by forced memorization of arbitrary word strings. Students memorize phrases and sound bites and the only ones who learn anything are the ones who have not yet had their natural curiosity squashed by the heels of laziness and ignorance, the ones who desire to know burns hot enough that they dedicate their own personal time to the discovery of truth.
Today is a great day because the solution my concerns has finally came together in one coherent vision. Dot is so ambitious, that I will not explain the entire scope of it in this post. I will only summarize what I hope to accomplish. The Dot Project can be summarized in the following phrase:
The rational representation of definitions, measurements, and theories.
Where dot itself refers to a sort of universal language that will be created, The Dot Project seeks to parse the body of science history and finally formulate it into that language which will be known as dot. As for the reason why I chose the word "dot", I will have to explain later, as I only have 30 minutes to write and post all of this (again, sorry for the inevitable grammar errors). I will briefly explain the definition. By rational, I mean not arbitrary, not contradictory. A common example of arbitrary is the fact we that (in the U.S.) we drive on the right side of the road, when there's no reason that we couldn't be driving on the left. A more accurate example might be the shapes of letters in the alphabet. Every letter you're reading of every word in this post, while it may have a historical reason for being that particular shape, could just easily be another shape. Many of the letters could be switched around, and if you were raised with say, "K"s switched with "C"s, you would never know the difference. That's arbitrary. The only non-arbitrary thing about the letters of our alphabet that I can think of at the moment is that they are somewhat designed to avoid confusion with each other. Although, this still happens often with "I"s commonly being confused with lower case "L"s for example. By representation, I mean not the actual thing - descriptive and correlating forms. By definitions, I mean visual and audio symbols and words used to describe measurements and theories. By measurements, I mean magnitudes produced by calibrated (standardized) instruments. All pure eye-witness testimony (claims of observations that cannot be recreated) will be rejected as not scientific. By theories, I mean formulations of measurements which make predictions.
Although the goals are well defined, the paths to those ends will cover an adventure of discovery and understanding. What comes first is the collection phase. As I study the history of science and learn fields myself, you will be learning alongside me, often in comic form. Much of what I learn will be from you as I publicly ask questions when I am stumped. As I am collecting data, it will be available in a public database of awesomeness. After the collection phase, the creation phase begins. This is when the dot language will be defined. Finally comes the translation phase. In this phase, a translation tools will be provided for as many other languages as possible. Although, dot should be so intuitive that any person raised in any language should immediately understand the meaning of any dot document, at a minimum, the concept itself will still have to be explained.
The central aim of dot is to 1) eliminate the confusion between observation and theory, 2) eliminate the illusion of fact and establish all information with quantifiable magnitudes of certainty, and 3) make available the entire body of scientific knowledge to anyone with sensory perception and 4) demonstrate the fun and ease of learning when information is properly presented.
I was going to try to figure out my quarterly tax return forms this afternoon, but this dot project thing seems easier.
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