Self-Help and the History of Science

I’m feeling a little woozy today. I slept longer than normal, but in short chunks. My body is definitely not used to almost eight hours of sleep, and kept waking me every three and a half hours.

That says more about my recent sleeping habits than I would like.

Self-help time: My wife and I had a bit of a tiff yesterday, and it was pretty much my fault. (Surprising, this is not.)

She wanted to bounce an early stage of an idea off of me. I listened – and liked the idea. But instead of just saying “Good idea, hon”, I looked for the problem spaces. In my head, I was looking for the weak points now, so that the idea would have a better chance to become reality. Which, of course, made my wife feel as if I was condemning and attacking her idea – exactly the opposite feeling than intended.

I’ve tried the “good idea, hon” thing before, and it *feels* like a blowoff. It’s sounded that way to others, too – probably because I felt like it was.

I’d really like for her to continue to share ideas with me – but need advice on ways to keep my yap shut (while still being supportive). Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

And now, for something completely different.

We started watching Cosmos again (yes, with Carl Sagan), and I was reminded how awesome of a program it was. It’s remarkably progressive for its time as well – a tad Eurocentric in its view of history, but given its place in time, very understandable. It’s also surprisingly balanced in gender appearances for the time period. So we’re going to watch it as a science overview, then move back to Planet Earth, then sideways to Connections with Robert Burke (I believe). The last is a series well worth finding, especially as a complement to the “standing on the shoulders of giants” view of scientific history that Sagan takes.

Not that Sagan’s view is *wrong* – just not entirely accurate. Connections highlights the odd, coincidental, and often absurd ways in which scientific progress proceeds. How the invention of (if I remember correctly) indigo dye led to the arc light, for example.

Connections also points out the intellectual efficiencies from being connected to one another; how sheer proximity to other ideas can lead to unexpected outcomes. This is one of the problems facing us in a (probably) spiky world. Retention of newly-trained graduates is a real issue in many areas. As more talent and trained people congregate in specific metro regions, comparatively rural areas need to find ways to keep up.

I believe that one facet to this issue is to invest in already existing human capital. Older persons – who already have a stake of some kind in the region – are more likely to stay put. Having a local, trained workforce is a good incentive to attract businesses… and you go from there.

The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades.

Peril-sensitive ones, of course.