Kira Interdisciplinary Science Seminar: Vic Michalak - The Kira Institute
Starting from a scientific world view - we ask the question, what else is true
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Kira Interdisciplinary Science Seminar: Vic Michalak
Quantized Theories of Economy Dates: Every second Thursday
Time: 9:00am SLT
Venue: Kira Cafe Lounge

This seminar will explore how interdisciplinary scientific collaborations have led to and will likely lead to a better and broader understanding of our world and to breakthroughs in fields of science that might otherwise not have been accomplished within a particular field of study.  The seminar is inspired by a presentation in February 2009 for Nymf's Science Circle by Piet Hut (SL: Pema Pera) entitled "Knowledge of Knowledge" in which he suggested that:

"Many of the most interesting problems in current scientific research require interdisciplinary collaborations...  From cognitive science and systems biology to environmental studies and challenges like critical evaluations of alternative medicine, we need teams of specialists to talk and work together. However, differences in culture and methodology provide significant barriers for broadly interdisciplinary collaborations.  What is needed for broadly interdisciplinary studies is not only an increase in knowledge, but rather a focus on knowledge of knowledge."

During the first session, we will review the development of interdisciplinarity and the meaning of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and cross disciplinary.  Then we will brainstorm interdisciplinary collaborations of which we are aware in preparation for Phase One of this seminar. During subsequent sessions we will enlist speakers to introduce instances of interdisciplinary collaboration or today's problems that might require an interdisciplinary approach.

The Kira Interdisciplinary Science Seminar (KISS) will be conducted in four phases (with flexibility to perform an iterative loop back to an earlier phase if it proves useful as we learn more about the subject):

  1. The Past.  What scientific collaborations have occurred in the past during which observations or methods or ideas from one field of scientific study have contributed to another?  How did this collaboration occur?  What was contributed?  How was it received?  One example that we will discuss is that of the Alvarez family (father and son) combined knowledge of geology and astronomy to solve the problem of what most likely caused the mass extinction (the one that included the dinosaurs) at the boundary of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras (the K-T boundary) about 65.5 million years ago.
  2. The Present and Near Future.  What scientific collaborations are being conducted or discussed today?  What are some of today's problems?  How might interdisciplinary collaboration benefit those trying to find solutions?  For example, the global warming situation is being approached by researchers in a vast variety of fields of study.  And in the field of computer science, sustaining "Moore's law" will require collaboration in several disparate scientific studies.
  3. The Future.  How might diverse fields of study lend ideas or approaches or methodologies to solve problems or improve practices?  What other similarities in the way things work might be applied in another field?  What problems today may be "too hard" for a simple solution or collaboration and may require an unusual approach from science or other ways of knowing?
  4. Transdisciplinary Approaches.  Apply what we have learned to recognize potentially novel approaches to solving problems.  Phases one through three will provide us a background for why there has been a need for interdisciplinary approaches and the successes of these types of collaborations to date.  Now we will try to find commonalities in existing  problems in a more transdisciplinary manner.  Is the problem one of communications or injection of errors or of inadequte math or what?  Is there some simpler way to describe the stumbling block so that a potential approach or methodology or solution or even similar problem may be recognized to exist in another field of study.


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