Science needs a symbol

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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby AvatarIII » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:35 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:I think we should use this:
Image

it's already what a lot of people think of when they think of "science" plus it's cool.


Thanks, I think.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby idobox » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:53 pm UTC

Think of it, most symbols for organizations or movements do not represent the whole idea.
Christianity is much more than a man nailed to a cross.
I have no idea where the crescent moon used by Islam comes from, but I don't think it sums up the whole Qur'an
The star of David also comes from a small part of Jew's history
The donkey ad elephant for americans. Seriously.
Most political party symbols, in fact.

It's not that important that a symbol for science truly represents all science, it's a symbol.
The beaker, or the atom, or a microscope, all convey the idea of science

A candle in the dark, or maybe a light bulb, would be nice too. Okay, most people have never heard of Carl Sagan's book, but I think the symbol is strong. Light has been associated with intelligence and science for a long time, at least in the western culture, and it symbolize the fight between reason and obscurantism, as well as hope and progress.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby jobriath » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:04 pm UTC

idobox wrote:Okay, most people have never heard of Carl Sagan's book, ...

I immediately thought "Pale Blue Dot", which has the advantage that reproduction costs will be tiny.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:12 pm UTC

Yeah, me too. A little blue pip. It inspires questions, it's a little off-center, and it stops short of taking itself too seriously.

It also has the advantage of being about Sagan, rather than being about the concept of science. I still don't think that any one group of people gets to monopolize a concept. Movements are defined by associations and ideologies, not concepts. But I wouldn't mind nailing Carl Sagan to a tree and calling myself a Saganian. It's a pity that Cosmos was never released in a leather-bound form with a bookmark ribbon.

Edit: Ooh, with the words of his sport coat in red.

Edit again, 4 srs: Let me try this one more way. idobox, you mentioned movements, political parties, and religions, and previously we've mentioned corporations. Religions being inherently repellent to me, I can't really accept that they have a benefit, but the other three can do good things; nonetheless, they're inherently temporal. They're reactions to conditions that exist, or a single slice of the continuum of a developing idea. They die and get replaced as methods improve or goals are further specified or corrected.

If you want to start a movement for the popularization of rational thinking - or keep Sagan's going, for that matter - that's fine. Just don't confuse the mechanism with the goal. It's no better than Christians who confuse Christians with "good people." Many of them would say that their movement is meant to produce good people, but there are still good people who aren't Christians and Christians who aren't good people. That's an almost facetious example, but people who ideologically support rational thinking can still be irrational, and people who aren't a part of a particular movement can still be rational thinkers.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby chenille » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:54 am UTC

I don't agree science needs a symbol, but you could use something like an eye, because that's what science is about: watching things to figure them out. Maybe two eyes with a raised eyebrow.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Gagundathar The Inexplicable » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:31 pm UTC

MarvinM wrote:A rallying cry from newscientist. A focus for everything that seeks to subvert us. A banner to support and defend representing everything we believe in. No need to question motives or explain or reason. If they use that symbol they are one of us.

We should probably write down a set of rules for what is and isn't science in a book so we know who can use and wear the symbol. If these definitions aren't fixed they will become currupted over time, science says so. It must be written down once, perfect, immutable, irrepealable, unappealable. I'll help with that. This book will need skill in interpreting for new branches of science in the future, that will need to be done by an elite core of trained scientists, starting with the people that wrote the book.

Rise up my fellow supporters, drown out the unworthy irrational voices, shout with me "I believe in SCIENCE, I believe in this and I believe it will last forever!".


I imagined you running around in circles and ranting this.
Thanks for making my Tuesday funnier.

I think a tee-shirt with 'shout with me "I believe in SCIENCE"' would sell well online.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Cithoge » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:35 pm UTC

How about an unwoven rainbow? (I'll let someone more artistic work out exactly how... and no stealing from Pink Floyd! ;)) That should stand as a proud rejection of Keats' notion, and a great emblem of the beauty of science.

Granted, it is perhaps biased too much towards physics - but isn't everything? *Hides*
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Gagundathar The Inexplicable » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:42 pm UTC

I actually thought about the prism splitting apart light into its constituent frequencies.
Then I realized it would look just like 'Dark Side of the Moon'.

I like this idea.

I will certainly think upon it.

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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Gagundathar The Inexplicable » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:15 pm UTC

As an addition, while we remember Newton for his 'Laws of Motion' and his conceptualization of gravity, his work in optics is sometimes underplayed or even ignored. The concept that LIGHT, the very thing we all see everyday, is made up of multiple colors simultaneously, we all take as normal information. But before Newton, NOBODY knew that was true. Not Aristotle. Not Socrates. Not Aristophanes.

No, it was Isaac Newton who discovered this.

It blows my mind it took us until the mid 1600's to realize this.

I am wrong, y'all? Didn't Newton discover this?

It can be argued that this discovery led to Marconi's invention of radio.
After all, without a concept of an electromagnetic spectrum, how could imagine sending data on a particular frequency?
We needed to know that light (energy) went in waves AND particles before we could do what we humans have done.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby drash » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:27 pm UTC

Always been a fan of the humble delta:

Image

For bonus points, superimpose it over a picture of the Earth from space.

As a general philosophy, science has two particularly important advantages. First, scientists with divergent opinions tend to find a nearly global/universal consensus and agree over time, as opposed to the endless splinter groups of religious, political, or artistic movements. Second, by virtue of that consensus, scientists can build on previous discoveries- the knowledge becomes permanent, and through the use of that knowledge we impose a non-reversible technological arc on human history. So- change the world.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:21 am UTC

I would say that those are advantages science has over philosophy, not as a philosophy.

Gagundathar wrote:I am wrong, y'all? Didn't Newton discover this?

It's actually explained in the Wikipedia page for Unweaving the Rainbow. Apparently, splitting white light prismatically was described in the first decade of the fourteenth century by Theodoric of Freiberg and recognized as the source of rainbows. Newton was the first to sort putting the light back together, a la the xkcd strip.

Edit: And thanks a lot for giving me a reason to cheat blackout day. I'd been good all day until now. = P

Edit's edit:

drash wrote:or artistic movements

Hey, whoa, hold, wait a minute. Art is supposed to splinter. That's built in - it's intended. Artists aren't trying to create a general theory (and the movements that do tend to create very little actual art.) No fair lumping it in with the other dross.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby drash » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:13 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:I would say that those are advantages science has over philosophy, not as a philosophy.
I'm perfectly happy to retract the word in favor of "means of knowing" or "approach to making sense of the world"- that's all I really meant. But we can have a fun discussion about it when the topic of the thread is "Science! A Philosophy?"
Copper Bezel wrote:
drash wrote:or artistic movements

Hey, whoa, hold, wait a minute. Art is supposed to splinter. That's built in - it's intended. Artists aren't trying to create a general theory (and the movements that do tend to create very little actual art.) No fair lumping it in with the other dross.

Heh, that's actually more of a value statement about religion and politics on your part, not one I made. Whether you think of it as a bug or a feature, the point is that art can only be as great as human variance allows. When you start being able to stand on the shoulders of giants, it becomes techne.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:48 am UTC

drash wrote:I'm perfectly happy to retract the word in favor of "means of knowing" or "approach to making sense of the world"- that's all I really meant. But we can have a fun discussion about it when the topic of the thread is "Science! A Philosophy?"

Fair point. I'm getting carried away with myself a bit there.

Heh, that's actually more of a value statement about religion and politics on your part, not one I made. Whether you think of it as a bug or a feature, the point is that art can only be as great as human variance allows. When you start being able to stand on the shoulders of giants, it becomes techne.

A fair point as well, and again, I'd be pushing even further off topic to pursue it. Art is the application, not the generation, and that's something it shares with religion and politics.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Fire Brns » Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:03 pm UTC

You People are forgetting that it needs to be able to be illustrated easily.

Most people wouldn't the greek letters.
Any images of atoms are misleading or imply specifically electron shells.
An illiterate person needs to be able to recognize it. (how a stop sign is an octogon or a cross is two intersecting lines)
Superimposing on the earth would limit it's use.
You guys get theoretical math, everyone else just thinks intersecting shapes are cheap clipart.

A Beaker works. Or a potato battery.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Sagekilla » Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:You People are forgetting that it needs to be able to be illustrated easily.

Most people wouldn't the greek letters.
Any images of atoms are misleading or imply specifically electron shells.
An illiterate person needs to be able to recognize it. (how a stop sign is an octogon or a cross is two intersecting lines)
Superimposing on the earth would limit it's use.
You guys get theoretical math, everyone else just thinks intersecting shapes are cheap clipart.

A Beaker works. Or a potato battery.


It's dangerous to out words in a sentence. You might accidentally the reader.

I like the idea of light personally.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby arclight » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:15 pm UTC

I always thought that the stylized bohr model was used to represent science.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Fire Brns » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:Most people wouldn't recognize the greek letters.
I actually remember misspelling the word and and then backspacing but I went to write the rest of the post first. *facepalm*
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:25 pm UTC

perhaps something like this spiral:

Image

with "truth" "understanding" or "reality" in the center but not quite touching the spiral.

Science: always getting closer to the truth but never able to be certain.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Gagundathar The Inexplicable » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:51 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:perhaps something like this spiral:

Image

with "truth" "understanding" or "reality" in the center but not quite touching the spiral.

Science: always getting closer to the truth but never able to be certain.


It is a great idea, but unfortunately that spiral makes my sensorium go nuts.
Maybe a larger spacing between cycles and a few less would be better.
As it is, part of me is screaming "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh I'm falling"

But it is a cool idea.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Cithoge » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:10 am UTC

Gagundathar The Inexplicable wrote:As it is, part of me is screaming "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh I'm falling"


This is quite a common reaction to contemplating the questions that science tackles on a daily basis, so that's as much an argument for the symbol as it is one against. :wink:

That said, it has the same effect on me, and I don't think I could stand looking at it for any length of time... :roll:
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:25 am UTC

Not really a suggestion, but relevant: I've like to plug Sixty Symbols.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby dedalus » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:11 am UTC

A question mark being measured by a vertical error bar? So something like ?I but in a serif font.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby sigsfried » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:06 am UTC

I would just go for the error bar. It surely is the thing that sums up science and maybe managing to get the public to realise that science doesn't deal in certainty would be a huge boost.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Shivahn » Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:41 am UTC

sigsfried wrote:I would just go for the error bar. It surely is the thing that sums up science and maybe managing to get the public to realise that science doesn't deal in certainty would be a huge boost.

I'm not certain that would be a great boost.

"Why should I stop smoking? Science isn't sure of anything! It's just as valid as crystal therapy!"

Having knowledge without the background to properly interpret it is extremely dangerous.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Nautilus » Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:27 am UTC

Interrobang and error bar in a circle?

I'd sketch it up but I'm on my phone. :wink:
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby sigsfried » Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:23 am UTC

Shivahn wrote:
sigsfried wrote:I would just go for the error bar. It surely is the thing that sums up science and maybe managing to get the public to realise that science doesn't deal in certainty would be a huge boost.

I'm not certain that would be a great boost.

"Why should I stop smoking? Science isn't sure of anything! It's just as valid as crystal therapy!"

Having knowledge without the background to properly interpret it is extremely dangerous.


But the problem is that by the public beliving science deals in certainty any time something, however small, changes (especially health advice) people seem to take the attitude that "science is always changing its mind so you can ignore everything".
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:49 pm UTC

Yeah, but you're both reacting to the same built-in assumption that's presented by using the error bar in the first place. The idea is that it would be nice if the general public could understand that scientific consensus really is the best answer we have, even if it has to be revised in the future. That possibility of later revision with new information is simply not expressed often enough, particularly in popular media portrayals of scientific theories but also in science classrooms, so people get frustrated. They don't understand the difference between a layperson's speculation about which theory "sounds right" and the kinds of evidence that actually go into disproving or not disproving a theory, and they've heard the word "is" too much and the words "behaves as if" not enough.

Incidentally, I smoke, but not because I don't think it's killing me. = P
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:33 am UTC

Here's an image of the candle in the dark suggestion made by idobox, which was my initial thought as well.
candle.jpg
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Of course, a more stylized version might be preferable.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Sockmonkey » Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:40 am UTC

Maybe combine a couple like this.
Image
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Carlington » Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:03 am UTC

We could inscribe a vertical line segment (representing a beam of light, for physics and light is often associated with knowledge) in a circle (representing the earth, which is the end target for all the scientific progress we make and arguably the focus of science), in turn inscribed in a triangle (representing mathematics/also can be interpreted as a Greek letter delta, which is used in nearly every branch of science.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:17 am UTC

Carlington (The Aussie) wrote:We could inscribe a vertical line segment (representing a beam of light, for physics and light is often associated with knowledge) in a circle (representing the earth, which is the end target for all the scientific progress we make and arguably the focus of science), in turn inscribed in a triangle (representing mathematics/also can be interpreted as a Greek letter delta, which is used in nearly every branch of science.

Your symbol for science is the deathly hallows?
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Carlington » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:49 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
Carlington (The Aussie) wrote:We could inscribe a vertical line segment (representing a beam of light, for physics and light is often associated with knowledge) in a circle (representing the earth, which is the end target for all the scientific progress we make and arguably the focus of science), in turn inscribed in a triangle (representing mathematics/also can be interpreted as a Greek letter delta, which is used in nearly every branch of science.

Your symbol for science is the deathly hallows?

Yes. My (somewhat facetious) suggestion was the Deathly Hallows.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby lorb » Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

Just pointing out that question mark, interrobang and greek letters are ethnocentric.
Please be gracious in judging my english. (I am not a native speaker/writer.)
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby AvatarIII » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:06 pm UTC

I had this idea for a symbol, but then I drew it and realised it looked too much like pac man, I went with the all-encompassing circle, but made it into an eye (to signify observation) and a vertical line to signify an error bar,

it's pretty simple to draw, but curse the iconic and simple look of pac-man!
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby nehpest » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:09 pm UTC

A pill-popping Pac? Preposterous.

(Sorry, I spent the last hour or so reading Dr. Seuss.)
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Winter Man » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:03 pm UTC

drash wrote:Always been a fan of the humble delta:

Image

For bonus points, superimpose it over a picture of the Earth from space.


Sort of like this?
Image
Explosion, WAH!
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby RaptorRider » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:07 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:Here's an image of the candle in the dark suggestion made by idobox, which was my initial thought as well.
candle.jpg

Of course, a more stylized version might be preferable.


Put the candle inside of a Delta, showing the change in understanding as the scientific community adds to and revises what we know.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Charlie! » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:00 am UTC

RaptorRider wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:Here's an image of the candle in the dark suggestion made by idobox, which was my initial thought as well.
candle.jpg

Of course, a more stylized version might be preferable.


Put the candle inside of a Delta, showing the change in understanding as the scientific community adds to and revises what we know.

Then put the delta inside of an omega, which goes inside a duck, which goes inside a chicken, which gets put in a mass spectrometer, which goes into the space shuttle, which fits snugly inside the ATLAS experiment chamber at the LHC.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Kick » Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:24 am UTC

I would be a fan of this:
Science.

Simply the word "science" typed. I guess that's not really a symbol though. :( In that case, I do love the simplicity of the delta.
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Re: Science needs a symbol

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:12 am UTC

Kick wrote:I would be a fan of this:
Science.

Simply the word "science" typed. I guess that's not really a symbol though. :( In that case, I do love the simplicity of the delta.

It's also hilariously anglocentric. (Englicentric?)
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