Science Blog: Open the black box

As a third-year student in science, I often think back to what it means to be a scientist.

The definition that I like to live by, is that a scientist is someone who gives a voice to the material world, in analyzing and explaining the phenomena that both surround us and comprise us. If we truly consider these words to define us in science, then I believe that we as scientists are not projecting our voices very well.

The analogy of the “black box” is often used in science and technology to describe a system or object that can be understood in terms of what goes in and comes out.  There is no actual knowledge pertaining to what is inside it. Applications of this analogy are widespread: the brain was the black box in early psychology, studied only by inputs and outputs. Similarly, complicated algorithms are often black boxes in computer science.  

After being immersed in science and research over the past couple of years, I have come to realize that science itself is a black box to anyone outside of its niche community. I believe that this is something that can be and must be addressed.

In efforts to tackle the fundamental problem of poor communication and to give a real, human voice back to the science students at Carleton, a new Science Blog has been created by The Charlatan. Carleton scientists can use this blog as a platform to express their research and thoughts in simple terms that can be understood by anyone.

My vision of the Science Blog is best described by the message that world-renowned Dr. Lawrence Krauss brought to Carleton during a public lecture on Oct. 22: science is an art form, just as much as visual arts or music. It is the process of understanding life from the grand scale of our place in the cosmos, to the microscopic scale of every cell and every atom that comprises us.

Science truly is magnificent, and merits a voice that is not stripped of all emotion for publication in a scientific journal. It deserves to be inclusive–shared with and appreciated by all.

So we invite you to open the black box and participate in the Science Blog either as a contributor or as someone interested in exploring our unique art form.


Graphic by Manoj Thayalan

If you have passion for science and technology, feel free to reach out to oped@charlatan.ca to pitch your ideas for this new blog.