Sunday, October 27, 2019

S.T.E.A.M.

On the fly, can you tell the difference between a nerd and a geek? Until recently, these two words were terms of derision. But, to get on the same page, what do they actually mean?

Although they are virtually synonymous, a sliver of differentiation harks back to their original usage. Nerd, or geek, refers to someone who may be “obsessively studious, offbeat, bashful, or socially awkward.” But nowadays, nerd confers a degree of pride in single-minded expertise, while geek retains its old derogatory reference to eccentric carnival performers. Indeed, the term computer geek sums up the contemporary perception of arguably the most high-functioning band of technical performers that exist in the world today.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Cuckoo’s Nest

Every human being possesses one or more talents that vary across a broad spectrum. Deploying our primary senses, we interface with the world through our vision, auditory perception, touch, and other faculties. But while the majority of people perceive nature simply and unvarnished, there are outliers who instinctively search for patterns with their eyes either open or wide shut, indicative of how their brains are wired. Using symbols, logic and pure imagination, gifted mathematicians have the capacity to study the shape and motion of physical objects, and to delineate space in abstraction. As far as the average person is concerned, these brainiacs might as well exist in a parallel universe.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tainted Glass

Ignorance can be bliss but, sometimes and depending on the circumstances, ignorance could be debilitating. Earlier this year, a television documentary explored the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Survey results revealed that a third of respondents in seven countries were unaware of the death camps strewn across German-occupied Europe three-quarters of a century ago. In the US, they discovered that two-thirds of American students were clueless about the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Out of Sight

How tiny is tiny? Or how thin is thin? A pharaoh ant or a strand of hair, perhaps? Sounds like a specious response to a silly quiz. In fact, human cognition allows us to perceive nature at, and beyond, eye-level resolution while innate curiosity leads us to explore our environment in all its complexity. Unprompted, we are constantly seeking to make sense of our place in a universe containing objects both great and small.

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