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Saturday, July 21, 2018

A case for interdisciplinary science

Got my latest hardcopy issue of Science Magazine. Of particular interest:

Conversations spark connections as scientists search for inspiration in other fields

If you knocked on Heaven’s door, and God greeted you, what question would you ask? What is the nature of human consciousness, and how can it be expanded? Where does the Universe begin and end? What is time, and why isn’t it constant? What causes deviance? And further still, if you received an answer, could you decipher it? Or would the answer only be a clue leading to the next clue?

The Most Unknown, a documentary film in the Simons Foundation Science Sandbox series, takes the viewer on a fantastical journey of nine scientists as they intrepidly knock on Heaven’s door. Each asks a profound question in a different way. But all are making a difference in how science explains the universe, the world we live in, and the worlds within us.

Although the filmmaker, Ian Cheney, is not a scientist, he makes a point that is now well documented scientifically: Scientists from different disciplines who immerse themselves in one another’s work and exchange ideas solve the hardest problems…

Woven into the film’s electrifying tapestry of ideas, persons, and places is the story of the hard work of science. Great discovery, we see, comes part and parcel with emotional frustration and disappointment, unusual hours that buck circadian rhythms, tight spaces, cold water, and dark places.

In The Most Unknown, Cheney connects apparently disparate journeys of discovery, illustrating where interdisciplinary teamwork can fill in a scientist’s blind spots. When seen through this lens, science can be viewed as a big import-export business of ideas. Conventional, well-understood ideas in one area, when brought into another scientific domain, are suddenly seen in a new light.

Newton’s observations that “standing on the shoulders of giants” is key to scientific discovery may only have been half right. As documented in The Most Unknown, scientists also have much to learn from their contemporaries.
Indeed. Can't wait to see this.

"The Most Unknown is an epic documentary film that sends nine scientists to extraordinary parts of the world to uncover unexpected answers to some of humanity’s biggest questions. How did life begin? What is time? What is consciousness? How much do we really know?

By introducing researchers from diverse backgrounds for the first time, then dropping them into new, immersive field work they previously hadn’t tackled, the film reveals the true potential of interdisciplinary collaboration, pushing the boundaries of how science storytelling is approached. What emerges is a deeply human trip to the foundations of discovery and a powerful reminder that the unanswered questions are the most crucial ones to pose.

Directed by Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ian Cheney (The Search for General Tso, The City Dark) and advised by world-renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Grizzly Man), The Most Unknown is an ambitious look at a side of science never before shown on screen. The film was made possible by a grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science."
From the documentary info site at MOTHERBOARD:
In a world where the knowledge we gain from basic research faces a variety of threats ranging from apathy to outright antagonism, how do we make people care about science? For one, we can start with asking scientists why they're doing the work in the first place.

We're pleased to share the first trailer for Motherboard's first feature-length documentary, titled "The Most Unknown," which explores some of the biggest questions in science: What is dark matter? What is consciousness? Where did life come from? Is there life elsewhere in the universe?
Among other germane topics, this goes to themes in this book I cited earlier:

Another relevant prior citation comes to mind:

We must also recall the late Hans Gosling's new book "Factfulness." See also my citation of the book "The Silo Effect." And, my recent post "STEMM should get HACD."

Finally for now, my January 2017 post "I am not a scientist."

More to come...

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