About Us

 

  Creators of Tyson’s Walk

 

 

   

Ray Ferguson (aka Corsten)

Creator, Armchair Pseudo-polymath

• Where are you from?
Ontario, Canada

• Who inspires you:
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, Richard Feynman, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris

• Principal subjects of interest:
Cosmology, Physics

• What does Science mean to you?
Science as a collective of human knowledge represents the answer to our fundamental curiosity about the details of reality. Its method to eliminate/minimize our prejudices and perceptive weaknesses. I’m in awe of the universe as we understand it and contemplating these understandings adds voluminous texture to my life.

• Was there a moment or time you could describe as the cusp of your interest in science?
I’ve always been a passive, curious observer. I like finding out more about how things work (I don’t mean just mechanical parts… everything!) Learning about the cosmos has been a glacially-encroaching hobby; The fire was never lit for me in high school. I suppose things finally began brewing whilst reading a book by Tim Allen, ‘I’m Not Really Here’. (Yes, the comedian). In what I now consider an ironic simile to where I find myself now, Tim was an armchair physicist/cosmologist. The book was a semi-serious story of a weekend pondering mid-life crisises and quantum physics. I don’t remember enough to pass a review of the book now, but I can thank it for describing the vast expanse of emptyness within and between the atoms in matter.

The kindling was set and the fire smouldered in my mind for years… Later on, viewing Brian Greene’s special on M-Theory set off the fire in my head and I have not looked back. Reflection re-kindled my childhood curiosities, so I began taking on more. Learning about the order of the world lead to more questions to be answered, more itches to be scratched. As my knowledge grew, the interconnectivity of the rules of the world and the universe became more apparent.

• Why do you write for Tyson’s Walk and what do you hope to acheive?
I can fill pages with the importance of scientific understanding in society, but I will leave those for appropriate future posts on the main page. I shall address this from a selfish perspective here.

Personally, I can’t imagine being alive and not being so maddeningly curious about the condition of our existence. I’m sad to find out someone thinks that Science is boring and not worth spending thought on; or, when someone has erected in their mind a glass ceiling to further understanding. That what they currently understand is all they possibly can understand, and they can pursue no further.

Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living”. I have learned to interpret it to not just limit this examination to the self. In addition to the true self-reflected meaning of Socrates, I submit to you that it’s much more rewarding to also strive to understand as much as we can about our place in the universe. We are intimately connected to the current and historical world and the universe beyond.

These understandings compound upon themselves: To be sufficiently aware of simple facts & the nuances of reality transform any reflection on the world into a rich, connected, multi-dimensional artwork. To step beyond the natural limitations of our human perceptions reveals a world of unbelievable truths. Our assumed and automatic perspective of the stage of reality we create from birth is hence exploded, revealing the interesting mechanisms underlaying reality. Understanding Science brings vividity and depth to everything we encounter. “Science is the poetry of reality” – Richard Dawkins.

So, now that you understand where I’m coming from…

I take great pleasure in seeing and nurturing moments of enlightenment in people. I enjoy telling a story and I think the cosmos is the greatest story of all. I have a natural talent for communicating difficult ideas and making connections between abstract or seemingly unrelated topics.

I aim to share the knowledge I have accrued, yes; but my ever-underlying task is to share these ideas from my perspective: That there is joy, intrigue and satisfaction in knowing more about the world. I want to help people discover the pecularities of the universe. To remind them of half-forgotten ideas from education a decade or more old. To challenge people to understand the glass ceiling inside their minds of what they think is the limit of their understanding and find ways to push through to enlightenment.


   

Ghrank

Co-creator, Curious Chemist & Skeptic In-Training

• Where are you from?
Denver, Colorado

• Who inspires you:
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, & Bill Nye are a few of the people that have had a hand in my developing interest in the sciences. They may not admit to it, but people of their caliber have contributed to decades of ingenuity, hopeful curiosity, and educating others in the relentless exploration of our surrounding world. How many people can say that about themselves? I also owe a great deal to the educators I was lucky enough to have while I was growing up. Being a teacher has never (in my lifetime) been a terribly glorified position, but throughout each stage of my young education, there were individuals who made it their priority to be skilled educators because they knew some things were worth teaching, and teaching well. Their example not only inspires me to pass on knowledge as I am able, but to make myself available as a hard-working and considerate student.

• Principal subjects of interest:
Chemistry, Mathematics, Astronomy…for now…

• What does Science mean to you?
Most often an involuntary process, we (humans) make observations of the world around us, and attempt to understand the things we observe in terms we already understand. In the field of psychology, collections of these terms are called “schema”, and can be described as templates or structures of ideas, definitions, etc. When we encounter new data, our first instinct is to incorporate our observations into existing schema, which permits us to more or less translate/extrapolate an underlying meaning from what we see. Science, indeed, learning in general, exposes the necessity to actively challenge our existing schema, to scrutinize the way we interpret the data we see, and remain open to the eventuality that sometimes, new schema must be constructed.

What seems to matter in many cases is the order in which the observation – schema relationship is assembled. Do we gather data, then attempt to construct a template for understanding how this data works? Or do we approach our surroundings with a template in mind, then look for data that fits our expectations? Forgive the leading question; my opinion may seem obvious on this point. However, it represents one of the cornerstones I try to maintain when I consider the world around me. When I conjure an image of “scientist”, I picture someone who has learned, through disciplined practice, how to really observe – how to see what there is to see, and to let his/her surroundings speak plainly of their own nature in the unique and constant languages of physics, numerical relationships, etc.

Now, this is not to say that each time I boil water, I should expect it to boil at any and every temperature (though you never know). Solidifying our knowledge of the constants of scientific language allow us to better identify when and ultimately how variations occur. But approaching the relationship with previous knowledge also allows me to expect that, at 1 atm. of pressure, water boils at 100°C. Variations on this simple schema alert me to variations in the relationship I am observing, and may lead to a better understanding of the previously unknown.

The desire for this understanding is, for many of us, at the center of our scientific drive. Ultimately, it is not “greener” cars, or more massive tomatoes, or even the cure to our most deadly and long-standing diseases that drives me to expand my scientific discipline. Understanding is what I crave, driven by the notion that my universe will always have more to teach me if I keep my eyes open.

• Was there a moment or time you could describe as the cusp of your interest in science?
My interest in scientific ideas (fictional and actual) has been ever-present for as long as I can remember. The books I read, the news stories that kept my attention, and the classes I excelled in reflected what was of interest to me. It wasn’t until relatively recently, however, that I assigned any active effort to becoming scientifically literate/practiced to any significant degree. A few years ago, I was holding a job which required just enough analytical thought to provide exercise for my brain, but not quite enough to be rewarding, long-term. I was enjoying using some of my skills, but not to the degree I really wanted to, and not in a field in which I thought I could enjoy working for more than a few years. So, back to school I went, in search of a greater degree of literacy in the subjects I had historically enjoyed. That work continues today, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

• Why do you write for Tyson’s Walk and what do you hope to acheive?
Most simply, my motivations echo those laid out in the scope of this site. Discussing frickin’ cool science topics with your friends can only persist for so long before they get fed up and kick you out of the weekly Farmville LAN party. The urge for that discussion needs an outlet, and it’s my hope that this site can serve thusly. Additionally, this site is a great venue for me to test and reinforce what I’ve learned about various topics, and provides fertile ground for feedback from those more informed than myself. A happy by-product of this collection of information and interaction with others will hopefully be an increase in the general level of scientific literacy in myself and in the general, human public which, I’m not afraid to say, is noticeably lacking. People educate themselves in an increasing number of ways in this age, and if this can be one of them, then I’m happy to participate.

One Response to About Us

  1. Rattle says:

    You dorks.

Leave a Reply