Archive for May 1st, 2009

Science blogbook: Snug Harbor – Mackaye Harbor

Snug Harbor – Mackaye Harbor

This morning we had a quick breakfast and collected a gray water sample for Erica and Peter’s surfactant sustainability project from the water used to wash dishes. We spent the morning discussing our progress in becoming comfortable with data analysis methods.  We pumped out and filled up with fresh water and then headed towards Discovery Island to try to record the metallic plink that you can hear on the Lime Kiln and OrcaSound hydrophones. Because we didn’t hear the plink we recorded the noise produced by the Gato Verde with various electronics on.  We spent the afternoon motor-sailing and working on our individual projects. Hannah and Jason made a lovely dinner of falafel, tzatziki (sp??) and veggie stir fry.  Hannah and I attempted a repeat performance of the Team H Caramel Covered Chocolate Spice Cake and we all enjoyed  some deck yoga.

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Robots vs. Aliens


Ahhh, aboard the Gato Verde we seem to have plenty of free time to follow our follies,  like experimenting with watercolors and debating/detesting the role of robots in our lives- now a daily occurrence, and the most recent source of my passionate confusion.

If you’re wondering what I mean by robots, look no further, because if you are reading this, then one is literally staring you in the face right now.  It has always seemed weird to me that we try to learn more about the natural world by bottling it into numbers, spreadsheets, graphs, and whatever else robots like to eat.  The results are in robot-speak, trying to describe with squared off logic the spherical realm.

It’s easy to be an advocate for robots, and it is this propensity for ease that has led us to welcome them into our homes and lives.  Despite this, I invite you to think critically about our ever-increasing robot dependency and the balance that could exist between our experiences in the natural world and our obsession with quantification.

Is it enough to thoroughly experience an environment and form a relationship with it in order to foster an understanding of it?  Could controlling and testing aspects of an environment reveal, in numbers, more valuable insights than our senses and intuition as part of the natural world provide?  I feel that natural history splits the difference here between sheer experience and logical interpretation of the natural world.  Unfortunately, the way we have engineered our institutions of learning has led us to a point now that places little or no value on natural historians, in favor of research.  Science is loosing the humanity with which it began, as it veers from physical experience in the natural world to number crunching and technological interpretations.  It is this dominance of fact over truth that I have found incredibly demoralizing as I continue exploring on my educational path.  Could there still be a way to do science that bridges the gap between knowledge and understanding?

Regardless, have no fear.  I’m sure when J-Pod returns there will be little to no free time aboard the Gato Verde for painting, debates, and blog-writing, so expect the next ones to be short!

Over and out,
Hannah McGowan

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