Letters to the Editor – Broomfield Enterprise

Learn and grow from an honest exchange of ideas

Science started with observations and then used those observations to formulate questions to understand the world. Observations are reality. The ancient Greeks observed that the sun created shadows of different lengths depending on where the sun was in the sky. They used this information to make a gnomon sundial to tell the time of day. Eratosthenes was a Greek astronomer, historian, mathematician and geologist. He used the gnomon with how long a camel could walk in a day to determine the circumference of the earth. Today we know that his crude observations and calculations determined the circumference of the earth to be less than 0.4% of the actual value known today. As one thing is discovered, it leads to more questions and observations which have brought us to where our technology is today, consider smart watches.

Scientists record their observations and then come up with hypotheses to help them explore the environment. These writings are printed in journals or presented at conferences and are used to inform other scientists of their findings and proposed hypotheses. Scientists use this information to recreate the experiment and verify the information or they realize that there might be another way to measure the same thing or discover new information. This is how science progresses, scientists verify, interrogate and discover.

Without the constant pushes, promptings and feedback, science would not move forward. We would all agree and never reach the point where we truly understand the intricacies of this world. A metrologist for 30 years, I have learned to listen to everyone because everyone has their own experience and knowledge. I looked at several different articles when researching a topic, as it usually helped me understand the topic in a larger context. When I was giving a presentation in front of a scientific audience, there were always questions and these questions were meant to understand my research and inform me about ways to improve the work. These exchanges made me a better scientist because I was able to get out of my mindset and see things from a different perspective.

Debating ideas seems to be anathema today. I believe we need to go back to the days when it was acceptable to question a premise or an assertion. There is no one “right” way to do anything. It is better to have a discussion because all of us, as citizens and observers, learn and grow from an honest exchange of ideas and these discussions should be based on data and facts. We used to debate by researching other people‘s arguments and figuring out how to refute those arguments. It seems to me that we no longer look at both sides. We should go back to a debate of ideas and realize that there is nothing wrong with being wrong, because being wrong leads to insight. Even Thomas Edison got it wrong 1,000 times before he got it right.

Chriss Hammerschmidt

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