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Science on the web - the black box

Science on the Web – Part one, Australia

Science on The Web – The Jindalee Radar System, Dr. David Warren and Rod Elliott of Elliott Sound Products(ESP)

Secret Seven to Isaac Asimov

Remember ‘The Famous Five’, ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘Big Ears’, ‘PC Plod’, ‘Biggles’, ‘The Hardy Boys’, ‘Nancy Drew’, moving on to science books, inventions, famous people, Encyclopedia Britannica.  Chances are that if you are 15 years of age today you would not remember any of this, chances are that most of your reading is done on the internet. Chances are that you will have great difficulty in finding work when you move out of school – perhaps you’ll become a student at a local university. Chances are even more so that you are going to enroll in some course covering Microsoft products, often mistakenly thought to be an IT course. I am fortunate enough to have a job, to be hired by what I would deem a very successful company and to be lead by some very fine people, especially the MD whom is a woman. Thirty years ago this was unheard of. Thirty years ago it was unheard of that people leaving school would still be illiterate. I matriculated about 35 years ago. It was taken for granted I would get a job, settle down, have a family.

Jobs Offered

I was also a white male in the Apartheid years living in South Africa. I worked for a company (my first job) that was totally transparent in their hiring and if you were qualified or had the necessary school grades, regardless of colour or gender you would have the same chance as the next applicant to get the job. Not now. Things have changed. School leavers are found to be illiterate, parents don’t teach the same style values as our forefathers did, we have equity in education (a very stupid thing) and to employ someone has become a science of it’s own.  I blame much of this on television, computers and the subject mix at schools –  this however is only part of the story. The real story is that kids nowadays don’t read – this is a parental obligation. Full stop. Libraries are falling over as kids opt to read stuff online. Kids even learn to read online. While the traditional educationalists ban Enid Blyton books they do not offer alternatives in hard copy.  How many children nowadays look up to their teacher? How many kids nowadays look up to anyone for that matter?

We live in times where our favourite motto is “knowledge is power.” Yet so many people have no ‘real’ knowledge. Is this why I find so few youngsters nowadays have real passion for the things they do. Much of our knowledge is gained from internet information, not self taught – it’s become a ‘get information fast society’ – borne from quick fixes.  There is a difference between those that get information from the internet and those that read real books, for those that like experimenting with science and in turn can say – I did that. The irony is that we read about these people ‘that do things’ on the internet. The internet is a haven of information but reading is only part of the knowledge program. Academics read real books. Academics also mentor. The internet is the biggest mentoring platform we have today yet is it real mentoring? Mentoring is also based on a relationship with one student or multiple relationships – is this strictly abstract or can a person truly mentor through the internet.  Yes, it can be done and it is done. I will cover just one of these people in our first article on ‘Science on the Web’.

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