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Matthew Wieder

Student, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

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Can we "engineer" our own interests through repeated exposure?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we learned about muscle contraction and how individual muscle twitches build on each other until tetanus (complete contraction of the muscle) is reached. Muscles are made up of small individual contractile units called sarcomeres which when they contract by themselves change the length of the muscle and produce a force that is negligible. However, when the sarcomeres contract in unison, the tension force produced is great enough to allow us to perform all of our normal day to day activities.

We also had a discussion in class about science education and how to get more young people excited about science -- often times in class there was a certain interaction with a role model who provided key influence either in a positive or negative direction.

This led me to think about the idea of life changing experiences. Is it ever a single experience, a specific interaction with a teacher or other role model that leads us to the career choices we make or, are we more influenced by the small events and sets of circumstances that "sum up" and provide this life altering influence?

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    Apr 2 2012: I have tried to engineer my interests, and have done quite a bit of experimentation which eventually totally worked. Best result: finding someone who loves whatever it is I want to love, and just talking with them about it! I would inevitably start to share their perspective. And really it stuck! I had no desire to go back to my original opinion. In that sense it was a very 'one person only, one event' type of thing.

    (What didn't work: repeat exposure, talking to someone who was really good at it but didn't love it. It sometimes worked to just put a good effort into liking it. ie smiling while I was doing it, being optimistic, looking for good things etc)
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      Apr 3 2012: Hey Sarina

      I feel the same way you do and I have had similar experiences. I have found that my interests have been reinforced by interactions with people passionate about what they do. They speak and act with such vigor. When someone believes wholeheartedly in something, it shows in their demeanor and behavior. Those are the particular things I look for in making certain decisions regarding my own interests. Just based on my own experiences, I feel that repeated exposure is the key to inspiration and to developing dreams. Repeated exposure results in big life changing decisions that drive us towards our passions. It is never one single event because according to John Locke, we are made of continuous streams of consciousness and not just one single event or body part. Though I do believe the first event that sparks our interests is important, it is just a start. We need more pushes in a certain direction to overcome any resistance and build up momentum.

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