如何用科学激发你的好奇心 Nadya Mason: How to spark your curiosity, scientifically

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演员: Nadya Mason


台词
A friend called me a few weeks ago
几周前一个朋友给我打了电话,
with bad news.
跟我说了个坏消息。
She dropped her cell phone into the toilet.
她的手机掉进了厕所。
Anyone here done that before?
这里有人经历过吗?
(Laughter)
(笑声)
So it was a bad situation.
这肯定不是好事了。
You know, without getting into the details of exactly how that happened
我没有详细问事情经过,
or how she got it out,
也没问她是怎么把手机弄出来的。
let's just say it was a bad situation.
我们就单说这是件坏事吧。
And she panicked because, like for many of us,
她不知所措,因为和我们许多人一样,
her phone is one of the most used and essential tools in her life.
手机也是她生活中 使用频率最高、最重要的工具之一,
But, on the other hand, she had no idea how to fix it,
但是,她不知道怎么把手机修好,
because it's a completely mysterious black box.
因为手机完全是一个神秘的黑匣子。
So think about it: what would you do?
大家想想:你们会怎么做?
What do you really understand about how your phone works?
你对自己手机的运作原理了解多少?
What are you willing to test or fix?
你愿意检验或修理什么?
For most people, the answer is, nothing.
对于大多数人来说, 答案是,一窍不通。
In fact, one survey found
事实上,一项调查发现,
that almost 80 percent of smartphone users in this country
我国大约 80% 的智能手机用户
have never even replaced their phone batteries,
从未更换过手机电池,
and 25 percent didn't even know this was possible.
25% 的用户甚至不知道 手机是可以更换电池。
Now, I'm an experimental physicist,
我是一名实验物理学家,
hence the toys.
所以我带来了这些玩意。
I specialize in making new types of nanoscale electronic devices
我的主攻方向是 制造新型纳米级电子设备,
to study their fundamental quantum mechanical properties.
研究它们基本的量子机械性质。
But even I wouldn't know where to start in terms of testing elements on my phone
但连我也不知道如果手机坏了的话,
if it broke.
该从何开始检验手机的各个部件。
And phones are just one example of the many devices that we depend upon
手机只是我们所依赖的众多设备之一,
but can't test, take apart, or even fully understand.
但我们不会检验、拆解手机, 甚至不能完全理解它。
Cars, electronics, even toys are now so complicated and advanced
汽车、电子设备、甚至是玩具, 现在都变得很复杂、很高级,
that we're scared to open and fix them.
我们都不敢打开修理它们。
So here's the problem:
那么问题来了:
there's a disconnect between us and the technology that we use.
我们和我们所使用的科技是脱节的。
We're completely alienated from the devices that we most depend upon,
我们对于这些最依赖的设备完全陌生,
which can make us feel helpless and empty.
这让我们觉得无助和空虚。
In fact, it's not surprising then that one study found
事实上,不出所料地, 一项研究发现
that we are now more afraid of technology
如今我们对于科技的恐惧
than we are of death.
大于我们对死亡的恐惧。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
But I think that we can reconnect to our devices,
但我认为我们可以 通过做更多动手实验,
rehumanize them in a sense,
和我们的设备重新建立联系,
by doing more hands-on experiments.
从某种意义上 让它们重新变得人性化。
Why? Well, because an experiment is a procedure to test a hypothesis,
为什么呢? 因为实验是检验假设、
demonstrate a fact.
证明事实的一个过程。
It's the way that we use our senses,
这是我们运用感官、
our hands,
运用双手
to connect the world
去连接世界、
and figure out how it works.
理解世界如何运行的方式。
And that's the connection that we're missing.
这就是我们缺失的联系。
So let me give you an example.
我给大家举个例子。
Here's an experiment that I did recently
这是我近期做的一个实验,
to think about how a touchscreen works.
用来理解触摸屏的工作原理。
It's just two metal plates,
只不过是两块金属板,
and I can put charge on one of the plates from a battery.
我可以用电池给其中一块板通电。
OK.
好了。
And I can measure the charge separation with this voltmeter here.
我可以用这个电压计测量电荷分离。
Now -- let's make sure it's working.
我先确保这个在正常运行。
So when I wave my hand near the plates,
当我在这两块板附近挥手的时候,
you can see that the voltage changes
你们能看见电压变化,
just like the touchscreen responds to my hand.
就像触摸屏会对我的手作出反应一样。
But what is it about my hand? Now I need to do more experiments.
但是我的手有什么特别的? 我需要做更多的实验。
So I can, say, take a piece of wood
比如,我可以拿一块木头
and touch one of the plates and see that not much happens,
触碰其中一块板, 可以看见没什么变化。
but if I take a piece of metal and touch the plate,
但是,如果我拿一块金属去碰这块板,
then the voltage changes dramatically.
那么电压就会大幅度变化。
So now I can do further experiments to see what the difference is
于是我可以进一步做实验,
between the wood and the metal,
看看木头和金属之间有什么差异,
and I should find out that the wood is not conducting
我应该会发现木头是不导电的,
but the metal is conducting like my hand.
但金属和我的手一样可以导电。
And, you see, I build up my understanding.
我一步步构建了我的理解,
Like, now I can see why I can't use a touchscreen with gloves,
现在我就明白了 为什么戴着手套没法用触摸屏,
because gloves aren't conducting.
因为手套是不导电的。
But I've also broken down some of the mystery behind the technology
但是我也破解了 这项技术背后的某些秘密,
and built up my agency,
并建立了我的能动性,
my personal input and interactions with the basis of my devices.
我与设备基本原理的 个人输入与互动。
But experimenting is a step beyond just taking things apart.
但实验比拆开物品更进一步,
It's testing and doing hands-on critical thinking.
实验是进行检验, 并在动手时运用批判性思维。
And it doesn't really matter whether I'm testing how a touchscreen works
无论我是在测试触摸屏的原理,
or if I'm measuring how conducting different types of materials are,
还是在测量不同材料的导电性,
or even if I'm just using my hands to see how hard it is to break
甚至只是在用手感觉 不同厚度材料的易碎程度,
different thicknesses of materials.
其实都无关紧要。
In all cases, I'm gaining control and understanding
在各种例子中,我都在掌控并理解
of the basis of the things that I use.
我使用的物品的基本原理。
And there's research behind this.
这背后还有研究的支持。
For one, I'm using my hands,
首先,我在用手,
which seem to promote well-being.
这似乎能够改善健康。
I'm also engaging in hands-on learning,
我也在进行动手学习,
which has been shown to improve understanding and retention,
这能够增进理解与记忆,
and even activate more parts of your brain.
甚至能激活大脑中更多区域。
So hands-on thinking through experiments
因此,通过实验进行的动手思考
connects our understanding,
能够让我们的理解,
even our sense of vitality,
甚至让我们的活力,
to the physical world and the things that we use.
同我们的物质世界, 以及我们使用的物品联系起来。
Looking things up on the internet
在网上查阅信息
does not have the same effect.
并没有这样的效果。
Now, for me this focus on experiments
对于我来说,对实验的注重
is also personal.
也关乎私人经历。
I didn't grow up doing experiments.
我并不是做着实验长大的。
I didn't know what a physicist did.
我不知道物理学家是做什么的。
I remember my sister had a chemistry set that I always wanted to use
我记得姐姐有一套化学实验器材, 我一直想要使用,
but she never let me touch.
但她从来不给我碰它。
I felt mentally disconnected from the world
我觉得在精神层面上与世界脱节,
and didn't know why.
但我不知道为什么。
In fact, when I was nine years old,
事实上,在我九岁的时候,
my grandmother called me a solipsist,
我祖母说我是一个“唯我论者”,
which is something I had to look up.
我还得去查这个词的意思。
It means that you think that yourself is all that exists.
它的意思是, 你认为你自己才是唯一的存在。
And at the time I was pretty offended,
当时我觉得备受冒犯,
because whose grandmother calls them that?
因为谁家的祖母 会这么称呼孙女啊?
(Laughter)
(笑声)
But I think that it was true.
但我认为她的说法是对的。
And it wasn't until years later,
直到数年后,
when I was in college and studying basic physics,
当我在大学里攻读基础物理时,
that I had a revelation
我才获得了某个启示:
that the world,
世界,
at least the physical world,
至少是物质世界,
could be tested and understood,
是能被检验并理解的,
that I started to gain a completely different sense
这时我才开始对世界的运作方式
of how the world worked
以及我在其中的位置
and what my place was in it.
有了完全不同的感受。
And then later, when I was able my own testing
后来,当我通过研究
and understanding through research,
进行自己的检验和理解,
a big part of my connection to the world was complete.
我和世界的连接才变得完整。
Now, I know that not everyone is an experimental physicist by profession,
我知道并不是每个人 都是一名实验物理学家,
but I think that everyone could be doing more hands-on experiments.
但我认为每个人都可以 多做些动手实验。
And actually I think we sort of --
其实我觉得我们——
I'll give you another example.
让我再举一个例子。
I was recently working with some middle school students,
最近我在辅导一些中学生,
helping them learn about magnetism,
帮助他们学习磁学,
and I gave them a Magna Doodle to take apart.
我给了他们一个磁性画板, 让他们进行拆解。
Remember one of these things?
大家还记得这个东西吧?
So at first, none of them wanted to touch it.
刚开始,没有人愿意碰它。
They'd been told for so long not to break things
他们接受过太久的 “不要弄坏东西”的教导,
that they're accustomed to just passive using.
让他们早已习惯了 被动地使用物品。
But then I started asking them questions.
但我开始问他们问题。
You know, how does it work? What parts are magnetic?
它的工作原理是什么? 哪些部位是有磁性的?
Can you make a hypothesis and test it?
你能建立假设并进行检验吗?
But they still didn't want to break it open.
但他们还是不愿意把画板拆开。
They wanted to take it home with them, really.
他们其实想把画板拿回家。
Until, one kid finally sliced it through and found really cool stuff inside.
直到一个小孩终于把画板剪开, 在里面发现了很有意思的东西。
And so this is something we can do here together.
我们可以在这里一起试试。
They're pretty easy to take apart.
这种画板挺容易拆开的。
See, there's a magnet inside, and I can just cut this open.
这里面有一个磁铁, 我只需把这个剪开。
Cut it open again, you can split it.
再剪一下,把它掰开。
OK, so when I do that -- I don't know if you can see this,
当我这么做的时候—— 不知道大家能不能看见,
but there is sort of -- there it is, this oozy white stuff in here.
但这里面——就在这里, 有一些粘稠的白色物质。
Now you can see it on my finger.
现在我手指上沾了一些。
And when I drag the pen on it,
当我在上面拖动笔时,
you can see that these filaments are attached to it.
可以看见上面牵连的这些纤维。
So the kids saw this,
孩子们看见了之后,
and at this point they're like, this is really cool.
此时他们的状态就是, “太厉害了!”
They got excited.
他们变得很兴奋。
They all started ripping them open and taking them apart
他们全都开始撕开画板,
and yelling out the things that they discovered,
一边拆一边喊出他们发现的东西,
how these magnetic filaments connected to the magnetic pen
这些磁性纤维如何粘在磁性笔上,
and that's how it wrote.
这就是磁性笔的写字原理;
Or, how the oozy white stuff kept things dispersed so it could write.
或者是那些粘稠的白色物质 如何让颗粒分离让人们可以写字。
And as they were leaving the room,
当他们离开教室时,
two of them turned to me and said,
两个孩子转身对我说,
"We loved that.
“我们好喜欢这节课。
Me and her are going home this weekend to do more experiments."
我和她这周末要回家做更多实验。”
(Laughter)
(笑声)
Yeah, I know, the parents in there are worried about it,
我懂的,家长们会感到担忧,
but it's a good thing!
但这是件好事!
Experimenting is good, and actually I found it extremely gratifying,
实验是好事,事实上我觉得 它让人心满意足,
and I think hopefully it was very life-enriching for them.
我希望实验能丰富他们的生活。
Because, even a basic magnet
因为即使是最基本的磁铁,
is something that we can experiment with at home.
我们也能在家里用它进行实验。
They're both simple and complex at the same time.
它很简单,同时也很复杂。
For example, you can ask yourself,
比如说,你可以问自己,
how can the same material both attract and repel?
同样的材料为何既能吸引也能排斥?
If I take a magnet, is it useful if I can get one of them
比如,如果我拿着磁铁, 如果我能让一块磁铁
to rotate the other, for example?
旋转另一块磁铁,能有什么用处?
Or, you can take this dollar bill over here,
或者说这边的纸币,
and I can take a set of magnets,
我可以拿着磁铁,
and you can see that the dollar bill gets lifted by the magnets.
大家可以看到, 磁铁能把纸币吸起来。
There's magnetic ink hidden in here that prevents counterfeiting.
这里面藏着磁性墨水, 可以防止伪造假钞。
Or, here I have some crushed-up bran cereal. OK?
又比如说,这里有一些 捏碎了的麦麸麦片。
And that's also magnetic. Right?
它也是磁性的。对吧?
That has iron in it.
里面含有铁。
(Laughter)
(笑声)
And that can be good for you, right?
这对你的健康很有益处,对吧?
OK, here's something else.
现在再来看另一个实验。
This thing over here is not magnetic.
这个东西没有磁性。
I can't lift it up with the magnet.
我没法用磁铁把它吸起来。
But now I'm going to make it cold.
但我现在要给它降温。
The same thing in here, cold,
同样的东西,但是冷却了,
and when I make it cold,
而当它冷却之后,
and put it on top of the magnet,
把它放在磁铁上时,
so --
就——
(Applause)
(掌声)
It's amazing.
非常神奇。
That's not magnetic,
它没有磁性,
but somehow it's interacting with a magnet.
但不知怎的它能和磁铁相互作用。
So clearly understanding this is going to take many more experiments.
很明显,想要理解这个现象 需要进行更多实验。
In fact, this is something that I've spent much of my career studying.
事实上,我的大部分科研生涯 都在研究它。
It's called a superconductor.
它叫做“超导体”。
Now, superconductors can be complex,
超导体是非常复杂的概念,
but even simple experiments can connect us better to the world.
但简单的实验 也能让我们更好地与世界连接。
So now if I tell you that flash memory works by rotating small magnets,
现在如果我告诉你, 闪存的工作原理是旋转小型磁铁,
then you can imagine it. You've seen it.
那么你就能想象出来。 刚才大家已经见识过了。
Or, if I say that MRI machines
或者,如果我说磁共振成像仪器
use magnetism to rotate magnetic particles in your body,
是运用磁铁旋转你体内的磁性粒子,
you've seen it done.
大家也已经见识过了。
You've interacted with the technology and understood the basis of these devices.
你已经与科技互动, 并理解这些设备的科学基础。
Now, I know that it's hard to add more things to our lives,
我知道我们很难将更多事情 加入到生活里,
especially experiments.
尤其是实验。
But I think that the challenge is worth it.
但我觉得这是一场值得尝试的挑战。
Think about how something works, then take it apart to test it.
思考某件物品的工作原理, 然后把它拆开进行检验。
Manipulate something and prove some physical principle to yourself.
操控某件物品, 向自己证明某条物理原则。
Put the human back in the technology.
让人回归科技之中。
You'll be surprised at the connections that you make.
你会对你能建立的联系感到惊喜。
Thank you.
谢谢。
(Applause)
(掌声)