Will robots and artificial intelligence (AI) dominate humans? Can superman and perfect women be made through gene manipulation? These questions sound weird, but they are quite close to us too—these are all about our future technology. Some people would just keep such interesting questions about science and technology to themselves. However, in the science community, Sci-Dreams, people who are interested in science are free to talk about diverse topics and express their opinions. The Ajou Globe (The AG) visited a small, cozy craft shop in Itaewon, Seoul in August 13 to meet members of Sci-Dreams. The members welcomed The AG and continued sharing opinions with three presentations.
As usual, Sci-Dreams has a day each for presentations day and book discussions, held alternately every Saturday. Diverse scientific presentation and discussion topics are all selected according to the presenter’s interest and choice. On the day of the interview, the three presentations that The AG listened to were about bio-mimicry (the imitation of natural creatures, and their application to design and innovative technology), DNA technology and dolphins.
After each presentation, the members freely talk about the scientific background knowledge and related opinions. Contrary to The AG’s expectations, the presentations were not too technical—the discussion and presentations were ordinary and easy enough for anyone to understand. For example, the presentation about dolphins expanded into a discussion related to problems of abandoned dogs, zoos and animal rights. The presentation related to genetics also initiated a discussion about the unreasonable treatment of, and political drawbacks for, scientists. It is a misunderstanding that the group discusses only very difficult scientific matters. In fact, there was active participation from members who study Korean, psychology, and business administration.
Furthermore, the diversity of students’ majors led them to think expansively. One of the members said that Sci-Dreams activities helped him develop a broader perspective on science, such as trying to compare Newton and Descartes. One member mentioned that before participating in Sci-Dreams, natural science and engineering were quite difficult subjects since students have to acquire the knowledge passively in order to get a good score. However, by reading books and joining in the discussions afterwards, he became more interactive and independent in his approach to science. In Sci-Dreams, all people listen carefully to others’ opinions and respect them. Members learn how to listen to others, consider scientific phenomenon in various ways, and make reasonable decisions.
The unique point was that the discussion and ideas mingled natural science, humanities, economics, and many other academic disciplines. The ideas and activities in Sci-Dreams converged during discussions. For example, the members shared ideas about an augmented reality through the game Pokémon Go . The topic was quite familiar to The Ajou Globe, since it was written about in an article, ‘View on Society.’ Not limited to the technological aspects of augmented reality, the members shared ideas about relationships and feelings of humans, while considering the required social regulations.
Nowadays, convergent education is becoming more important. In the free school system semester, the study load as well as the range of subjects in middle schools is being increased. Ajou University has a similar system called the Paran Semester. What do Sci-Dreams members think about the ‘fusion of disciplines’?
According to a member, who actually teaches science in middle school, it is now difficult to teach an active fusion education to high school students because for most of them, entrance exams are the foremost goal in school life. However, several middle schools try to incorporate creative fusion education materials such as finding scientific elements in literature or technology in music. She said that as of now, fusion education for middle and high school students depends on the teachers’ passion.
Additionally, other members mentioned some prerequisites in order to realize the fusion of disciplines in society. Though diverse knowledge in different fields is needed to realize such a fusion, ironically, it is more important to know one field in detail—some people who are experts in their fields are able to fuse with other studies and have a right insight, thus creating great synergy. Another member said that fusion of many different studies would bring answers to controversial questions. For example, there are special characteristics that specific nationality have, such as Americans usually have better abilities in playing basketball. In such questions, history scholars and scientists would give different ideas. For now, degrees in specific fields protect and ensure respect for each scholar’s ideas. However, the member comments that a fusion may blur the boundaries between degrees, often providing solutions to questions while also creating a ripple effect on society.
Sci-Dreams is a science community composed of members who want to talk and chat about science. It has no restrictions of age, majors or jobs—the chairman of Sci-Dreams was recommended by her acquaintance, and she just wanted to find like-minded people to talk about topics of limited interest to the general public. Popularizing science is what Sci-Dreams aims for. Science is no longer something that only special people do. The members want a lot more people to feel comfortable about science, and constantly consider how people in the field must conduct themselves. Sci-Dreams had a final comment: “We never discuss complex science! We welcome anyone who wants to talk, who wants to know science.
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