Wednesday, April 6, 2005

There's a microphone in your ear

So today's auditory lecture was quite wonderful. The lecturer, a new Canadian guy, was describing how the ear works, how different frequencies were picked up by the hair follicles(?), how the gears inside would operate like a real Hi-Fi speaker, the Fourier Transforms done inside which affected the feedback mechanism that heightens sensitivity, and so on. And I was, like, son of a mother!

As I've just programmed my tuning fork application last week, I was naturally very interested in this topic. It is, essentially, a considerable engineering feat. The logical, sensible, intelligent ponderings that go behind the construction of the ear. I'm sure the eye and brain are very much complicated and exquisite, but because I know a little bit about music production, I'm more 'convinced' about the functions of the ear. So this lecture is almost like a theology lesson, because one is tempted to think that God is very clever to do all this. However, it's not theology that leads us to our understanding, it's actually science, which can be ironic when we think about popular notions about the supposedly zero-sum-game between science and 'religion'.

I think the power of science is the fact that it acknowledges its fallibility, as compared to the infallibility of religious dogma. Science says, "What I tell you now is most likely correct, but it can always be wrong." Ahh...what sweet sounds to a scientist. That's what I like a lot of our lecturers and tutors. More often than not, they're very skeptical about their own field of expertise, and they make it a point to express it, folks like D. Milech and the current 315 tutor. I think that's very, very cool.

There's a school of thought that believes science should be relegated in favour of religious dogma. Probably the most famous one is the 'creationism' or Intelligent Design. These guys want the theory of evolution to be removed from high school textbooks. They want to teach that an Intelligent Being (most likely, God) is behind the creation of the universe since there's no way such exquisite things (like the ear) can happen out of pure chance. Although I'm of the personal opinion that yes, there may seem a divine intent in creation, I think those creationists are just on the wrong track. Science does its best work when it's untainted by dogma. Schools should teach science, not articles of personal faith. But the most important thing that folks would do well to understand is that science isn't an enemy of 'religion'. On the contrary, it's probably its best companion and sidekick.

Today's optional theological reading: Bible Stories Told With Lego™ Bricks


VIV said...

Hear ye!
Something as complicated & marvellous as the eye for example took countless generations to evolve to its present state due to natural selection. The story probably goes like this: "In the beginning, land creatures saw through a lens which didn't really afford them much vision due to the way they went about survival...." It was only after centuries, maybe longer, of adaptive evolution (the need to adapt to predators & hunting for food) that the eye evolved to its present structure.

Charles Darwin's hypotheses requires our brain's involvement with history, biology and cognitive logic. Not that complex, but certainly more taxing a chore than the easy-to-digest logic: God Made Us.
Don't take my word for it -- optional ref: Carl Sagan, "The Dragons of Eden".


Ali said...

Yeah, Dave was good. Even though I was tired.

The human body is so intricate and amazing that I always wonder how people can believe that we came from single cell organisms (correct me if I'm wrong about this whole evolution debate).

AND... Aragorn's real name is...

Viggo Mortensen!!!!! Haha, found it out. I knew it started with a V!