Into the Maelstrom, ELI KINTISH

What is science? Is it a result or a process? Well, it is both; and this is what everyone should be aware of.


Science is a process of discovery, a blind and bumpy path researchers walk on for years to –sometimes, not always- find a certain solution.


It is imperative for scientists to communicate their research to other scientists, researchers and to the general public through the media.  However, since science often faces controversy, sharing everything may wreak havoc. In fact, mediums only look for an important audience. Climate-change being a ubiquitous topic nowadays, it is thus likely to make the news and being discussed, or even criticized by society.

The excerpt proposed to our study, Into the Maelstrom, is a news article published in Science Magazine. However, this article isn’t discussing any scientific discovery; but instead, it is discussing the challenging life cycle of a certain controversial theory and public’s influence on the breakthrough. Jennifer Francis is an atmospheric scientist who came up with a new yet debatable theory: “Warming arctic is changing weather patterns by altering the Jetstream and atmosphere.” For the first time in climate studies’ History, Arctic was seen as the perpetrator and not as the victim. This is surely a polemic claim that was predictably going to be contradicted and defied. Nevertheless, Francis’ gauche and amateurish response to media drew her attention from the essential.


As the author mentioned, a media and email rush smothered her as she divulged her theory. Responding to inquiries, criticism and advises occupied a quarter of her days. Being a person who finds motivation in challenge and adversity since a young age, this response pumped her self-confidence, creating an urge to confront, quarrel and prove wrong those who came in her way. Hence, Francis hasted herself to answer and defy people, even before drawing conclusions. One can’t help but notice that this is due to the media’s bad influence which the course studies: if it weren’t for the overwhelming media coverage of the breakthrough, the scientist would have tackled queries and criticism with more wisdom, and specially with more consistent arguments and better established replies.


To conclude with, I trust that the text aims to show that the life cycle of a breakthrough in science is a long one, one that has to be handled with serenity, organization, and an open mind. An innovation doesn’t have to be shared only when it reaches the desired outcome, but it has to show consistency. As Francis reflects at the end of the article, taking risks and rushing the revelation disturbed her judgments and her ability to formulate rounded and well cultivated replies.


On a personal note, I find that Francis’ experience could be hailed as a poster child for us all studying here at Georgia Tech, since as young engineers, we could be tempted to share our discoveries with the public as soon as we think we saw the light at the end of the tunnel.


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