6
Oct 03

I don’t know if it is cheating to ask this here

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 220 views

I don’t know if it is cheating to ask this here, but the memory was prompted by Geeta’s keynote article talking about the deadening vanilla teaching of science in schools. My chemistry teacher once threw me out of a class – he was talking of allotropes of sulphur, rings of eight molecules breaking into chains of eight, and asked what we thought happened next, and I squawked “Pieces of eight!” in a parrot voice at the back. Anyway, another time he was explaining how the nature of the bonds between the hydrogen atoms and the oxygen atom in a water molecule explained why ice at some temperatures was less dense than liquid water (most substances are less dense as liquids than solids) and I wondered if ammonia, which had superficially (at least) similar bonding demonstrated the same property. Emails via the link provided below…

(While I am reacting to Geeta’s piece, it’s worth emphasising that the failures and errors are often the very stuff of new ideas and territories, or at least good clues as to what to do next. I particularly enjoyed reading about a scientist who was producing computer models for evolutionary strategies and patterns in simple sets of populations (limited to grass, rabbits, foxes for instance) and realised that there was something wrong with his models when the system kept insisting that there was a negative number of rabbits present, a concept I find intriguing.)

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