Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Scientific Resolution

“Everything changes on New Year’s Day,” sings Bono of U2 fame.  I don’t know whether or not that is true, but the first of January does present an opportunity for us all.  If December 31st is a day to reflect on the year that has passed, then the following morning, once the hangover passes, is a time to consider what the coming year will bring.  We often make statements regarding the changes that we will make, known as New Year’s resolutions.

Common resolutions involve self-improvement, such as kicking bad habits, eating healthier and exercising more.  A great one for this day and age is to be good to yourself, and to devote an adequate amount of time to doing things you enjoy.  Regardless of where you are in your career, you may resolve to make adjustments or improvements at work, or even a drastic change.  Perhaps taking a course that will advance your career, or stimulate you at work represents a good resolution.

My resolution in 2011 is to continue what I started in late 2010: The Engineer’s Pulse.  This website, which was launched in October of 2010, has been well-received thus far.  I have posted about seven articles per month, and have seen the hits per month increase from 150 in October to 650 in December.  I hope that this kind of growth continues throughout 2011.

I am also encouraged by the fact that the readers of this site are scattered around the globe.  Although the majority of readers are from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, seven other countries have taken an interest, including Russia, Singapore, and the Netherlands.  The internet ensures that no place on Earth is far when it comes to sharing information.  I am happy to see that my readers emanate from all over the world, as it reassures me that not every hit on the site is my own mother’s doing in an attempt to boost my ego.

The coming year will be an exciting one for The Engineer’s Pulse.  January and February will see some provocative new posts on interesting topics.  March will be “Aerospace month”, and an “Energy month” will likely follow shortly thereafter.  I plan on making more media appearances like the one I made in mid-December on CJAD Radio.  I hope to schedule frequent classroom visits in the Montreal area as well.  Other goals include presenting some space elevator research at the 2011 Space Elevator Conference in August, as well as publishing an article in Scientific American.

The goal for The Engineer’s Pulse has always been to offer synthesized information within the scientific realm that engages people from all backgrounds.  I will make an effort to keep the topics current, and thought-provoking.  I want this site to be a place that people return to for its accurate information delivered in a friendly format, and I hope it acts as a catalyst for some intriguing debate.  I sincerely hope that interesting conversations will emerge on the comment boards in 2011.

Why is this site important?  I cannot answer for you, but I can answer for me.  I think this site is important for a number of reasons.  Looking to the future, certain commodities will go up in value, while others will lose value.  I suspect that access to accurate information will become extremely valuable.  While knowledge is power, perhaps more powerful is a reliable source of knowledge.  The book of knowledge amassed by man is growing exponentially, and no area is seeing more growth than those of science and technology.  When the quantity of information gets large, the actual value of any individual information decreases.  However, there is a corresponding increase in the importance of having a place where reliable information is stored.

The internet is an interconnected web of information that is tremendously valuable if you know how to use it.  For every useful site on the web there are at least ten pieces of garbage.  As the total number of sites increases, the diamonds become buried in the rough.  I feel sorry for my students who believe that a search on YouTube will invariably yield accurate information.  As I have written previously, there is an incredible amount one can know.  Knowing what is good, but knowing where is perhaps better.  If you have some accurate information, you have a good egg, but if you know where such information can be found regularly, you have a good chicken.  Sadly, the world is being over-run by loud, bad, sometimes evil chickens, like, for example, the political group known as the Tea Party.

Learning about science is important for everyone – not just science students.  Science affects us all.  Knowledge of science changes the way we view the world because of its philosophical implications.  It also allows us to understand the tools we use every day.  As a result, scientific knowledge is empowering.  Accurate scientific knowledge allows us to cast a responsible vote for our political leaders.  Too many people who put energy and environment high atop their key issues when elections occur haven’t a clue about how energy is produced, or why the atmosphere heats up as a result.  This is a problem.

If the above is not reason enough to read these articles, then let me offer one more: it will give you something to talk about with your friends.  I am concerned that in 2010, more online man hours were spent watching a cat clean its butt than they were actively learning about science.  Hopefully, 2011 will be different.  There must be a more valuable place to invest one’s time.  Look at the most viewed YouTube videos of all time ... The results from your search will paint a bleak picture for humanity.

If you are a student, I hope you continue to enjoy the site’s content.  If you are a parent, perhaps you will be more able to help your kids with their science homework.  If you are neither a student, nor a parent, but are simply somebody who is interested in science and how it affects us, then by all means, stay tuned, comment, and become a follower of The Engineer’s Pulse (and tell your friends).

I hope the year ahead will be a good one for you all.  Set your respective bars high, and work hard, but don’t forget to play hard as well.  Whatever you resolve to do, I hope you reach your goals, and that you derive happiness from the success.  Remember though, that happiness is not derived by basking in your achievements as much as it is by being present as you will yourself towards success.  Remember also that success is nothing more than living your life in your way.  Cheers.


Michael Laine said...

Wishing you the best for the New Year! See ya in August! Keep up the writing, it's worth it.

Take care. mjl

The Engineer said...

Thanks Michael. Good luck to you too.