Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ethics of Progress

At the end of a fairly average day of council work, family matters and campaign work it was good to get out to something completely different. In the theatre at ARC Jon Spooner of Unlimited Theatre spent an hour explaining some of the complexities of Quantum physics to an audience, some of whom hadn't studied science in any shape or form for many years. It was interesting, challenging, funny and thought provoking. As technology races ahead how do we encourage/allow the curiosity which leads to new inventions but keep the technology focused on "good" uses? How do we encourage youngsters to see science as an exciting interesting subject? Unlimited Theatre has certainly got part of the answer to that latter question.
Even more interesting than the main production was the second half, when interested people were invited to return to the theatre to continue the conversation. There were questions on how the theatre and science came together, questions on the development of language to express what elegant mathematics can show, and much discussion between members of the audience on some deep and complex questions of physics.
Definitely an evening that was different, an evening to remember, and one to provoke questions about how watchful we need to be, how near to paranoia we need to go in order to make the best possible use of new technologies. There was also convincing proof there if proof were needed that the best weapon against misuse of technology is a highly techno-literate population. If everyone understands then it's harder to fool the population at large. Science teaching needs to be more exciting, more interesting and more accessible if we are to achieve that, and that's a challenge for schools and colleges now. It's also a challenge for governments to stop micro managing the curriculum and let the good teachers teach.
Meanwhile I'm trying to imagine a quantum computer!

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