I’m fascinated by people for whom science and math comes easily. Over the holidays I struck up a conversation with someone that works for JPL at a party. He works with gravitational waves. Or maybe he measures them, or talks to them. Okay, I don’t remember what exactly his job was, but it definitely had to do with gravitational waves. And honestly, the reason I don’t remember isn’t because I wasn’t listening, because I was, and even asked him to go into detail. It’s just that I had no idea what he was talking about, and so my brain took in the data, and then promptly ejected it to make room for something else, like storing useless information about frogs or shampoo or something. Most of science is based in mathematics, and math and I are not friends – my mind just doesn’t work that way. Sure I can add, subtract, and do all the basic things. But algebra? No. Geometry? I was never able to prove a single thing, other than I suck at math. And I never made it to trigonometry so I couldn’t even tell you what it is.
Side note – I looked it up on Wikipedia. Surely I’m not the only one that doesn’t know.
Trigonometry (from Greek trigōnon “triangle” + metron “measure”) is a branch of mathematics that studies triangles and the relationships between their sides and the angles between these sides. Trigonometry defines the trigonometric functions, which describe those relationships and have applicability to cyclical phenomena, such as waves. The field evolved during the third century BC as a branch of geometry used extensively for astronomical studies. It is also the foundation of the practical art of surveying.
Oh, right, triangles. I guess I do know trigonometry – isosceles, equilateral…and the other ones. I stopped paying attention halfway through the definition.
Anyway, in spite of my complete lack of mathematical ability, I love science. Today I read this article in Science Daily – apparently, a group of researchers created a way to store data in DNA. Among the information they encoded? An mp3 of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech and a text file of all Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Wow-ee wow wow wow.
I mean, the idea makes sense. DNA is sturdy stuff, after all, we extract it from crap we’ve dug from the ground that has been dead for tens of thousands of years. Hell, my computer seems to die a horrible death every few years and leaves nothing recoverable. So the fact that genetic material can be extracted from DNA means nature is much better at storing data than Dell. You know what else is cool about DNA? It’s fucking tiny. All the data the researchers synthesized into DNA strands came to something about the size of a dust particle.
Actually, that’s kind of where science lost me. Look, we must have a dozen data sticks floating around our apartment, not to mention memory cards, hard drives, and other assorted pieces of technological crap intended to store data. And you know what? I can never find any of them when I need to. If I can’t hold onto something the size of my pinky, how in the hell am I supposed to keep track of dust?
But still, it’s pretty awesome.