TED Conversations

Yu-An Chen


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Why don't we have more "Kitchen" scientists?

When people hear the word "Science", they often think of fancy labs with high technology equipment, and this is not too far off-- In my Bioelectricity class, for example, we learned about patch clamp experiments, which use tiny electrical recorders called micropipettes to record electrical currents from single ion channels in cells, and the voltage clamp experiments performed by Hodgkin and Huxley, in which they managed to thread wires through a single axon! These experiments, and a lot of other important experiments outside this field, require a lot of expensive machinery, chemicals and facilities. But does science always have to be a luxury? For example, instead of using expensive fish-eye lens for photography experiment, we could simply buy a much cheaper door viewer to get the same barrel distortion effect. Or you can go online and buy kits to record from brains, or if you live in New York City, you can join the community laboratory called GenSpace, take workshops, trainings, or can work on our own projects!

How do you think we can help science become more accessible to everyone? The more people, both amateur and professional, who contribute to science, the more ideas will be created!


Closing Statement from Yu-An Chen

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. I got to know a lot of new resources by going through the comments. It seems like most people will be glad to see more kitchen scientists. We can start with turning off TV and explore more about the world. Science is all around us, if one has the heart, anyone can become a kitchen scientist.

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  • Feb 10 2012: Actually, I think that we are already into a resurgence of science curiosity, as can be seen from the exploding grown of hacker/makerspaces. I think that what is needed is to reach parents of preschool children, and get them to perform the simplest, least expensive experiments (like germinating bean/pea seeds, or a lemon shocker) to encourage the growth of their kid's brains, so that they will be able to get better jobs and be more successful when they are grown. (Yes, I know, but for some people, the might dollar is the only thing that will get their attention.)
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      Feb 11 2012: The internet has made this so easy.....alot of homeschooling moms do this.....did you know that if you wet a kichen paper towel and stick it in a ziplock back with a couple of beans you will see the beans germinate in a couple of days.....you can also do it with beans in an old kitchen sponge that is kept wet......

      So simple.

      [Edited misspellings]

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