Saturday 24 May 2008

Results from the first experiment

Some 12 days ago I talked about what experiments are. Obvously I was not speaking about the sort of experiments that are done in a laboratory, but about the experimenting mind. My goal is having a more experimental behaviour, to be keen to learn things by myself, and not just from books. I want to listen directly to nature, and not just to the people who read about somebody who heard about the interesting findings of somebody else who was listening to nature.

Strictly speaking, an experiment needs more things than what I said: we need a depedent variable (which we have to measure), an independent variable (which must be the only thing that changes in the experiment); the experiment has to be reproducible, and so on...

But speaking about science is not science (is philosophy), and what I like is science, so I will not care too much about the details. I want to learn the details doing the experiments.

So, in my last post, which was also the first one, I made the following statement:

This post will get no more than three different reader's comments within the next seven days

I left more than seven days and... I was completely right! Not even one post. Obviously I didn't tell anybody anything about this blog. I didn't even leave links to this blog in any other website (until one hour ago or so). Otherwise, the experiment wouldn't have been valid.

I put a counter you can see on the right hand side where the visits to this blog are shown. During the twelve days, the only visits from anywhere outside Dublin seemed to be from somewhere in Switzerland (hi there!). But he/she didn't leave any comments.

So now I can say I know something, I am not just believing in something that might be wrong: there are so many blogs around, that most of them are read only by their creators. There are some exceptions with popular blogs, but if they are popular it is because people already know them. But if you don't say anything to anybody, nobody will read the stuff (at least the first twelve days!). I am OK with that, because I am writing to myself (as most of the bloggers, probably), but it is very interesting to confirm this idea.

So, now lets do more interesting experiments...

Monday 12 May 2008

What are experiments?

Hello world,

this is the first post of my first blog. I just would like to express how much I love understanding Nature, and the way I reach this understanding. All understanding is based on experiments. Without experiments, we would believe in things which are not true, and we wouldn't be able to predict how the Nature will react to anything.

I really enjoy doing experiments, but I don't do as many as I could, and I want to improve this. An Italian friend who lives in Finland once told me that Finnish people use to say "learn from inside" (understand) or "learn from outside" (learn by heart). I think I have been learning too many times from outside (books, other people, websites...), and now it's time to change that. I don't want to be a tourist of knowledge, but an explorer of knowledge, a creator of knowledge.

Sometimes, I think I have no time, or I convince myself that it is too complicated this or that experiment. But actually, we are surrounded by Nature. We are Nature ourselves, so... it can't be so difficult to make her a question.

So, what can I do to do more experiments, every time, everywhere? I first have to know what is an experiment, and what is not.

To do an experiment we do NOT need:
  • to have great ideas (great ideas are helpful, but not at all needed: we can do the simplest experiments about every day's life, so there is no more excuses such as "I'm too tired to think [about something complicated]" or "I have no imagination"),
  • a lot of time (this is not at all in the definition of experiment, an experiment can be done in a few seconds if we want),
  • a lot of material (an experiment can be done in a laboratory, and some "important" experiments require such conditions that a laboratory might be the only solution, but this is not true for all the experiments, and so it is not a part of its definition. An experimental mind finds beliefs to test everywhere),
  • a lot of knowledge (we can test the simplest thing we know, and doesn't matter if somebody knew that already, so here we have another excuse we will not use anymore: "I have to learn more things about the subject").
But we do need some things:
  • an idea to test (we have to define what are we pursuing, otherwise we will never reach our target, simply because there is no target. It can be a very simple idea, but we have to know which idea is),
  • creativity (if we don't try to do it differently, we always will get the same answer),
  • willing to have fun (it is supposed to be interesting, isn't it?),
  • observation of our environment,
  • objective measurements (when we don't measure what we are studying, we have a deformed version of the world in our mind, and the longer we don't do it, the more deformed it gets),
  • motivation (and this is one of the reasons if am starting this blog, because I know myself, and I know that having something to write about what I am doing boosts my motivation).
The first experiment I will do on this blog is checking something. There exist lots of blogs (on Wikipedia somebody says that something called Technorati is tracking more than 112 million blogs), so I will test this idea:

very few people will leave a comment here.

This is based on the following facts:

  1. I think very few people will find this blog,
  2. even if somebody finds it, the probability that somebody reads the whole post is even smaller,
  3. and even if somebody reads everything, not everybody will leave a comment.
So we have a sort of Drake equation which is multiplying tiny probabilities giving an even smaller probability. Let me know if I am right or wrong.

To measure this in the most objective way I can, and make it a bit more interesting, I will make a prediction. Let's say:

This post will get no more than three different reader's comments within the next seven days

And, if I am wrong, would you tell me what is your idea of what is needed and what is not needed in an experiment?