does emergence matter?
Submitted by Flora Shepherd on Sat, 2006-04-15 21:22
Earlier on in the semester, doug wrote "I think the study of "emergence" can be seen as a luxury topic. People may see it as non-critical, and do not see it as a field of inquiry that will immediately solve real problems. (I beg to differ). I suspect that the few women and other underrepresented groups are attracted, first, to the major topics, and slowly diffuse into "fringe" areas." This sentiment rang all too true to me. Emergence may attempt to explain and describe the physical world, but constructing computer models does not feel like solving everyday problems. It feels like playing games. I didn't begin seriously studying science until college. And, four years later, I still find myself fighting my distaste for disciplines that feel so distanced from the rest of the world. It is sometimes hard to justify studying an obscure discipline. What is the value in studying emergence? I found a great deal of solace in a blog post by a great blogger, Young Female Scientist. She writes "One of the only things that keeps me in science is knowing- not wondering in the slightest, actually- that my project is something that I can do now, and that science will be better off than if I left. " As the class winds down, I find that this is an extremely comforting thought. Our thoughts and contributions do matter. And even if we do not have the answers to emergence now, we have come closer. She adds "There are plenty of examples of stories in science that got dropped for say, 30 years, and then picked back up again. Or 100 years." We probably will drop the blog, more or less, but who knows if someone will stumble upon our musings, extrapolate a new conclusion and sketch out a discovery that turns into a breakthrough? Even tiny steps can further scientific knowledge.