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Thread: What do you think of Neil degrasse Tyson?

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Well put. Many people forget that he is a human and may have made mistakes in the past. It's hard to find someone who hasn't honestly: even Sagan allegedly had affairs and wrote about his cannabis use.
    If the affairs were with consenting adults then to me there is no comparison. And for cannabis use as well. If he was selling it to children, thatís different, but otherwise itís doing something to your own body, which to me is very different from harassment.


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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Einstein had writings which may be construed as racist today (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc...nment-44472277)
    Sorry, but conflating writings in a private diary with harassment just seems absurd to me. It seems clear to me that anyone has the right to write whatever they want in their diaries, and honestly itís nobody elseís business. But you absolutely do not the right to harass people.



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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Of course, this is preferable to all the women whose careers in science and technology (and elsewhere) were cut short because abuse and harassment were not addressed nor taken seriously
    Have you heard of the straw man argument? Your comment is classic example of it.
    Not remotely a straw man argument, though (ironically enough) your invocation of "straw man" in that regard is a bit of a straw man.
    CJSF's concern is the opposite side of the coin to your concern - they're inextricably linked to each other. To what extent are we prepared to tolerate one injustice (lives ruined by false accusations and trial-by-social-media) in order to address another injustice (lives ruined by institutionalized bullying, harassment and assault)? You can't address one without increasing the risk of the other. Life is full of these tensions and trade-offs.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Sorry, but conflating writings in a private diary with harassment just seems absurd to me. It seems clear to me that anyone has the right to write whatever they want in their diaries, and honestly it’s nobody else’s business. But you absolutely do not the right to harass people.
    And, like the comment about Sagan, it's an application of the tu quoque fallacy. Even if Sagan and Einstein had been convicted serial killers, the fact that they commited certain offences in no way excuses or justifies someone else who commits similar acts.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Not remotely a straw man argument, though (ironically enough) your invocation of "straw man" in that regard is a bit of a straw man.
    CJSF's concern is the opposite side of the coin to your concern - they're inextricably linked to each other. To what extent are we prepared to tolerate one injustice (lives ruined by false accusations and trial-by-social-media) in order to address another injustice (lives ruined by institutionalized bullying, harassment and assault)? You can't address one without increasing the risk of the other. Life is full of these tensions and trade-offs.

    Grant Hutchison
    Yes. And more explicitly: It's telling the type of society we live in (a patriarchy) that we want to assume that protecting the (usually) man is more important than supporting the (usually) woman, in these cases. Why is his reputation and career automatically more important than hers? Historically that's how this plays out. And we have seen by cases like Louis CK and a multitude of sports stars that men on the whole weather these incidents - even when accepting guilt - better than their victims (real or alleged).

    CJSF
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  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Not remotely a straw man argument, though (ironically enough) your invocation of "straw man" in that regard is a bit of a straw man.
    CJSF's concern is the opposite side of the coin to your concern - they're inextricably linked to each other. To what extent are we prepared to tolerate one injustice (lives ruined by false accusations and trial-by-social-media) in order to address another injustice (lives ruined by institutionalized bullying, harassment and assault)? You can't address one without increasing the risk of the other. Life is full of these tensions and trade-offs.

    Grant Hutchison
    I'm not asking for any injustice to be tolerated. All I'm saying is that we should await investigation by people whose job it is to do so (the legal system) before expressing judgement. I find it incredible that in a forum which advocates the scientific method there is such a strong opposition to what I'm expressing.
    Last edited by The_Radiation_Specialist; 2019-Jan-06 at 01:08 AM.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Yes. And more explicitly: It's telling the type of society we live in (a patriarchy) that we want to assume that protecting the (usually) man is more important than supporting the (usually) woman, in these cases. Why is his reputation and career automatically more important than hers? Historically that's how this plays out. And we have seen by cases like Louis CK and a multitude of sports stars that men on the whole weather these incidents - even when accepting guilt - better than their victims (real or alleged).

    CJSF
    I feel like my message has been highly distorted - as if I'm somehow saying harassment is ok. This is not true. Also why are we making this into a gender issue? This was nowhere in the comments I made.

    I will excuse myself from the thread I started because I feel that it is not productive to continue, and the original discussions is derailed.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    I'm not asking for any injustice to be tolerated. All I'm saying is that we should await investigation by people whose job it is to do so (the legal system) before expressing judgement. I find it incredible that in a forum which advocates the scientific method there is such a strong opposition to what I'm expressing.
    Just to be clear, I don't advocate at all punishing a person before an investigation is concluded. I'm not sure that anybody else is either. About having personal opinions or guesses, while I'm not sure whether that goes against the scientific method. The scientific method is to have a hypothesis and then test it. At this point, people are perhaps just floating hypotheses.
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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    I feel like my message has been highly distorted - as if I'm somehow saying harassment is ok. This is not true. Also why are we making this into a gender issue? This was nowhere in the comments I made.

    I will excuse myself from the thread I started because I feel that it is not productive to continue, and the original discussions is derailed.
    Also, I am sorry if you feel that you were misunderstood, and understand you didn't mean to say that harassment is OK. About making it into a gender issue, there are accusations of sexual harassment so it is by nature a gender issue. Also, since the OP was asking what people think of him, I don't really see this as a derailment. And again, I should make it clear that I don't know if he is really guilty of the accusations.
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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison
    Not remotely a straw man argument, though (ironically enough) your invocation of "straw man" in that regard is a bit of a straw man.
    CJSF's concern is the opposite side of the coin to your concern - they're inextricably linked to each other. To what extent are we prepared to tolerate one injustice (lives ruined by false accusations and trial-by-social-media) in order to address another injustice (lives ruined by institutionalized bullying, harassment and assault)? You can't address one without increasing the risk of the other. Life is full of these tensions and trade-offs.

    Grant Hutchison
    I'm not asking for any injustice to be tolerated. All I'm saying is that we should await investigation by people whose job it is to do so (the legal system) before expressing judgement. I find it incredible that in a forum which advocates the scientific method there is such a strong opposition to what I'm expressing.
    But we always have to tolerate injustice, because our legal system cannot decide truth or falsity with perfect accuracy. So someone will always be dealt with unjustly.
    And that means we need to trade off our society's set-point for what sort of injustice we'd rather have. For a long time, what we had was people remaining silent about bullying and harassment and assault, because speaking out would make their lives worse. That's unjust. Now people are speaking out more readily, though perhaps still not to any great benefit to themselves. But certainly by speaking out, they make the lives of those accused of this behaviour worse. Those who are falsely accused are undoubtedly being treated unjustly, particularly because it is now possible to make accusations very publicly and beyond the control of the legal system, using social media. And, by the very nature of bullying and harassment and assault, independent evidence may be hard or impossible to come by, leaving the legal system incapable of making anything like a definitive guilty/innocent pronouncement.
    So things are uncertain and complicated, and attitudes are polarized.

    If you look back at everything I've written here, all I've been advocating is:
    a) Not making judgements unless you've carefully reviewed all the evidence.
    b) Not making logical errors when assessing statements made by others.

    So, pretty much the scientific method in action.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-06 at 02:27 AM.

  11. #41
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    Has anyone here even read NDT's response to the accusations?

    https://m.facebook.com/notes/neil-de...6870826326613/

    He earnestly goes through each accusation. Based on his explanations it seems like he is being targeted unfairly and opportunistically.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Has anyone here even read NDT's response to the accusations?
    Sure have. I said that quite clearly in post #8.
    I've also read statements by his accusers, or reports thereof.
    What I don't have access to is any supporting evidence on either side, like witness statements or documents.

    There's an investigation of sorts underway, which may well have access to extra information, and which may or may not report publicly.

    So I'm not remotely in a position to decide whether or not Tyson has been unfairly accused, nor would I want to hazard any opinion on whether his accusers are opportunistic in any way.

    (Given that I am, by upbringing and predisposition, very much not a socially tactile person, I do find I have to suppress an automatic aversive response to some of the things Tyson describes doing. But I'm aware that says something about me, as much as it says something about him.)

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-06 at 03:02 AM.

  13. #43
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    Tyson is a source of misinformation.

    He will study something with half his attention and then build a story around it. Which is usually entertaining but often wrong.

    This leads to bad math as well as bad physics. But this is merely annoying. So Tyson tells Joe Rogan's stoner dude audience that there are more transcendentals than irrationals. Who cares?

    Much worse is when Tyson uses his poor memory and strong confirmation bias to invent histories. And then use his bad history to support his political talking points. He has done this on a number of occasions. See my post Fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson


    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    When we are in an age where the flat earthers are coming back we need as many people as possible to spread the word of SCIENCE.
    Most flat earthers are trolls, in my opinion. Trolling is a great way to get free publicity.

    Tyson's solution? Feed the trolls. He is the best publicist B.o.B. ever had.

    Go to Google Trends and search for Flat Earth. You will see interest took off when Tyson started arguing with B.o.B.

    Regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct against Tyson: I don't know if the allegations are true or false. So I will remain agnostic for now.

  14. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Hop_David View Post
    Tyson is a source of misinformation.

    He will study something with half his attention and then build a story around it. Which is usually entertaining but often wrong.

    This leads to bad math as well as bad physics. But this is merely annoying. So Tyson tells Joe Rogan's stoner dude audience that there are more transcendentals than irrationals. Who cares?

    Much worse is when Tyson uses his poor memory and strong confirmation bias to invent histories. And then use his bad history to support his political talking points. He has done this on a number of occasions. See my post Fact checking Neil deGrasse Tyson




    Most flat earthers are trolls, in my opinion. Trolling is a great way to get free publicity.

    Tyson's solution? Feed the trolls. He is the best publicist B.o.B. ever had.

    Go to Google Trends and search for Flat Earth. You will see interest took off when Tyson started arguing with B.o.B.

    Regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct against Tyson: I don't know if the allegations are true or false. So I will remain agnostic for now.
    The problem isn't whether or not that Flat Earthers are trolls or not, but the people that ending up supporting them.
    I am not getting into your issues with Neil degrasse Tyson because some of it seems a bit political.
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  15. #45
    I think some of the points you seem to mistaken an off the cuff remark with something scholarly. Newton did had differential calculus figured out long before Halley came and asked him about comets. Plus hopefully it gets people interested in science and start to read get educated in it. I don't want to get into a big battle over it now because I am tired from unloading a truck and reloading again today.
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  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    He earnestly goes through each accusation. Based on his explanations it seems like he is being targeted unfairly and opportunistically.
    First of all, Iím not going to criticize you for having jumped to conclusions without having all the facts, because as I wrote earlier, everybody, including you, has the right to come to their own conclusions even without all the facts. Youíre coming to your own hypothesis, too, and I donít think youíre being unscientific to do so.

    What I will get on your case about is the conclusion that the accusations were opportunistic. At least one of the incidents involved alcohol, and people can remember the same incident very differently without trying to be unfair. He and the women may honestly remember things differently.


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  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    Has anyone here even read NDT's response to the accusations?
    Yes, I read it a week or two ago. Perhaps you're not aware, but some have condemned him based on some of the things he said there. I've seen very polarized opinions for and against him referencing the same quoted statements.

    A couple of my thoughts:

    (1) He really should have continued to stay silent, or at least said far less. As a general rule, if you're being accused of something, you really should say as little as possible, because what you say will be used against you, whether you're innocent or not.

    (2) I can easily see, based on statements, how in some of those cases, he and the women involved could have different interpretations of the same events. It doesn't necessarily make one party right and the other wrong. As far me, I really need to see more information to come to a conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    (Given that I am, by upbringing and predisposition, very much not a socially tactile person, I do find I have to suppress an automatic aversive response to some of the things Tyson describes doing. But I'm aware that says something about me, as much as it says something about him.)
    I don't watch him very much, but based on some of his TV appearances, he strikes me as more inclined to touch people and enter (what I'd consider) personal space of both men and women than I would in similar social settings. I wouldn't call it terribly unusual behavior, just a bit different from how I would act. I can see how different (but not necessarily wrong) ideas about acceptable boundaries *might* result in some of the issues mentioned.

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    I think some of the dislike he gets is also possibly due to his ethnicity. Some folks simply don't like seeing a successful black scientist who is smarter than them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    I think some of the dislike he gets is also possibly due to his ethnicity. Some folks simply don't like seeing a successful black scientist who is smarter than them.
    I imagine you're right. But that is literally the first time I've thought of him as being "black", particularly.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    I think some of the points you seem to mistaken an off the cuff remark with something scholarly. Newton did had differential calculus figured out long before Halley came and asked him about comets. Plus hopefully it gets people interested in science and start to read get educated in it. I don't want to get into a big battle over it now because I am tired from unloading a truck and reloading again today.
    Off the cuff remark? It's a story Tyson has told many times. Here is one of Tyson's better known vids.

    Quick summary: Friend asks Newton about elliptical orbits. Newton goes home, invents calculus, and comes back two months later with the answer. And then Newton turns 26.

    Well, Halley asked the question about elliptical orbits when Newton was 41. Newton came back two years later with the rough draft from Principia. And Principia was published when Newton was 45.

    So if Newton didn't invent calculus because of a "dare" from Halley, what prompted him to make his calculus contributions? He got much of his calculus from Isaac Barrow, his colleague at Cambridge. Barrow, Fermat, Cavalieri, Descartes and others had laid the foundations of calculus in the generation before Newton and Leibniz.

    Most of Tyson's stuff on Newton is bull. See Thony Christie disembowel Tyson's bad history

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    I could also mention Tyson's cluelessness about medicine, in particular the field of epidemiology. Being clueless about medicine is of course pretty common, and I think about as common in physicists as cluelessness about physics is among medics. But in that regard, Tyson seems to be almost a type specimen for the Dunning-Kruger effect.
    His riff on "idiot doctors" at one of The Amazing Meetings was a catalogue of hopeless errors, and came over as more embittered than informed.

    Edit: Oh, here's the relevant section of his TAM talk, if anyone wants to see what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5X6...22B179&index=6
    I'd guess a lot of people here will be able to pick out the logical and factual errors for themselves, but I'll be happy to help if anyone is in any doubt.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-06 at 03:44 PM.

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    When we are in an age where the flat earthers are coming back we need as many people as possible to spread the word of SCIENCE.
    Excusing someone's [alleged] bad behavior because he or she is promulgating a position one agrees with is an excellent way of damaging that position. If, as is not unlikely, the harassment claims are valid, the first move should be apology, then some form of atonement. Circling the wagons, laagering up, and ignoring misbehavior is why the Church has been paying huge amounts of damages to victims and has caused devaluation of their teachings about morality.
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  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I could also mention Tyson's cluelessness about medicine, in particular the field of epidemiology. Being clueless about medicine is of course pretty common, and I think about as common in physicists as cluelessness about physics is among medics. But in that regard, Tyson seems to be almost a type specimen for the Dunning-Kruger effect.
    His riff on "idiot doctors" at one of The Amazing Meetings was a catalogue of hopeless errors, and came over as more embittered than informed.

    Edit: Oh, here's the relevant section of his TAM talk, if anyone wants to see what I'm talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5X6...22B179&index=6
    I'd guess a lot of people here will be able to pick out the logical and factual errors for themselves, but I'll be happy to help if anyone is in any doubt.

    Grant Hutchison
    Yeah, his schtick on idiot doctors is on my list of Tyson flubs. Tyson on idiot doctors

    Well known skeptic Dr. Novella called this out after hearing it at TAM6. Scroll to "Those Darn Physicists".

    But other than that bit Novella thought Tyson's TAM6 keynote address was an "excellent skeptical lecture". However that same lecture Tyson dropped numerous steaming piles on the stage: The Bush and Star Names story, his bad history on Hamid al Ghazali and the Islamic Golden Age, as well as his bad history on Newton vs Laplace.

    All these piles were received with enthusiastic applause. And this is at James Randi's The Amazing Meeting conference for skeptics. A community that is constantly bragging about their ability to detect [language]. Tyson has done more to discredit this skeptic credulous community than a hostile challenger could ever hope to do.
    Last edited by PetersCreek; 2019-Jan-07 at 04:36 AM. Reason: Redacted masked language.

  24. #54
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    It's also not unusual for people guilty of a crime to lie, so I'm not sure why "he said it didn't happen that way" should be considered definitive. Maybe he's right--though there's actually, to my understanding, documentation of a few complaints that shows he isn't--but "he explains it differently" is not persuasive to me.
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  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    It's also not unusual for people guilty of a crime to lie, so I'm not sure why "he said it didn't happen that way" should be considered definitive.
    Does the phrase "Mandy Rice-Davies applies" have any currency in North America?
    It's a reference to the Profumo scandal in the UK in the early 1960s. When a defence lawyer pointed out to the eponymous MRD (on the witness stand at the time) that Lord Astor denied ever having met her, let alone having had an affair with her, she laughed and replied, "Well he would, wouldn't he?"

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    It doesn't, but I'm delighted to learn it. It's not wrong.
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    Looks like Nat Geo has pulled his program pending the investigation. I hope the same thing will not happen to the Cosmos series - I like watching it and it would be a real shame to cancel the new season.

  28. #58
    General, innocent until proven guilty.

    Grant, maybe Tyson had issues with some pre-med students that colored his impressions of them. When I was in school there were people who decided to get their undergrad physics or maths instead of biology. Nothing wrong with that. One of these people had a huge issue with computers (mid 90's), she really didn't really wanted to anything to do with them. Her honors thesis was in taken MRI's of stuff like shellfish it needed code to be written for it, she got one of the lab techs to do it. I personally don't think she should of gotten her Honors degree she got someone else to do the work.

    Hops David and Tyson, read Calculus Wars. Newton or Leibniz both worked off of others peoples work. Newton concentrated on the movement of particles. While Leibniz had an idea about thoughts were made out of tiny little bits that added up and got into the Paris library and eventually met Huygens and well that was that. It is a lot more complicated because Hooke didn't like Newtons idea about light and throw out his whole book on out including his theory of fluxions. Maybe Tyson heard it was all on a dare from a professor when he was in school.
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  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Grant, maybe Tyson had issues with some pre-med students that colored his impressions of them.
    Given how little he apparently knows about medical training and practice, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if premed students had issues with him. There are few things more frustrating than being taught by someone who doesn't understand your educational needs or future training trajectory, and who is nevertheless happy to denigrate your career choice. To be honest, someone with such ill-informed opinions should be excluded from the medical training programme.

    I didn't go through the pre-med year, but it's a common experience that basic scientists don't have a grasp on how much of their subject is actually completely irrelevant to most medical practice. My Wife the Professor would be the first to admit that she is hopeless at physics, and only made it through the physics component of her pre-med year because her flatmate's boyfriend was a physics student who gave them private tuition. She hasn't used a single bit of physics in her clinical and academic practice for decades, and that would be the experience of most medical doctors outside of a few specialties like my own.
    Pre-med physics is largely a waste of everyone's time, except insofar as it:
    a) Tests your ability to organize and retain information
    b) Tests your ability to perform simple mathematical operations reliably
    c) Lays some groundwork that makes cardiorespiratory physiology easier to assimilate (after which the physics tends to be forgotten by most doctors)

    Some physicists teaching pre-med courses understand this; only a very few actually also understand the physiology that will be built on the foundations they provide.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jan-07 at 07:11 PM.

  30. #60
    Over here most places require you to get a full undergrad to go into medicine so I was about people who got a full physics or math degrees. Most people do this because it looks better to the admin departments then just a biology degree, but a biology degree would probably be more useful. The person above got a bio-physics degree. So they took the regular physics for physics students not a premed version of medicine. At this university there was a special version of first year physics for engineers, it was shortened because they probably be taken a lot of physics in their own courses. But one experiment was there is ball tied to string with a counter weight going straight down. You spin the ball over your head, simulating an orbit, one question was what happens if you cut the string. One person said it would still go around in orbit.
    Last edited by The Backroad Astronomer; 2019-Jan-07 at 09:43 PM.
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