What Scientists Spend Our Time Thinking About

Science gets things right and it takes a long time and it takes a lot of chatter to get there.

I think science is fantastic because it plods along pulling away the exuberance of sciences from the actual facts that are before us so that science comes along and gets things right as to how things work and it takes a long time and it takes a lot of chatter to get there.


It takes a lot of data of course and information, but it finally gets it right and what can be better to do than to finally understand something?  So someone put it to me the other day, the job of the human being is to, as you go through life, is to become less stupid and that is the job of science is to try to educate us about the nature that we are, our very nature, how we’re built, who we work, understand that and in doing that it seems to me is fulfilling and of great value and not scary and spooky and all the rest of it. 

It’s just I think there is a little bit of—when scientists finally say okay this is the way something works everybody goes oh, no, they debugged another thing and demystified another thing and that’s just not the way to think about it.  It’s the way to think about it is "Oh, that’s how that works!" and then go onto the things that occupy our minds most of the time, which are all our social relationships.

That is what we think about.  We don’t think about triangles and squares and computers that talk and all that. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Artist rendering of a supervolcano.

Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • The supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park could cause an "ultra-catastrophe," warns an extinction events writer.
  • The full eruption of the volcano last happened 640,000 years ago.
  • The blast could kill billions and make United States uninhabitable.
Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…