Andrew Leader

New York, NY, United States

About Andrew

Bio

Andrew Leader is a junior Electrical Engineering student at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Growing up outside Boston, Andrew spent all of time playing in a rock band. In the spirit of developing a strong interdisciplinary background, he has worked on projects in fields as varied as molecular biology and neuromorphic robotics. Last summer, Andrew worked toward developing an improved test for immunity to chickenpox and shingles at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

He is an officer for Cooper Union’s Pro Musica club and founder/president of the Ukulele club. Andrew has played guitar for Cooper Dramatic Society’s productions of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and The Rocky Horror Show. He has volunteered with the organization Musicians on Call, playing ukulele for bedridden patients in healthcare facilities around New York City.

I'm passionate about

Music, cooking, nature, friends, knowledge

Comments & conversations

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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
How does virtuality translate into reality?
I think that things like "reality" are best discussed in terms of relationships between different entities, sort of like how loud a sound is. Sounds are discussed in decibels with respect to the threshold for human hearing. Similarly, I think the term "reality" is only meaningful when we use it in a context. To apply this perspective to the virtual electrode example, some might say that the virtual electrode is just as "real" as the "real" one, because of its physical effects. On the other hand, some might say that we have no definite way of judging if either electrodes are real in the first place. Each of these arguments has its place, but it has to be rooted in context.
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
Can we "engineer" our own interests through repeated exposure?
I agree with you, Fiona, that in the absence of outside factors, under laboratory conditions, so to speak, there is no way to develop "interest habit" for the reasons you describe. However, we have to ask ourselves whether this translates into how we actually live. I think a big confounding factor, for instance, is nostalgia. For example, when I was a kid, I hated going to Hebrew school. I didn't understand what all the fuss was about, and I thought all this "God" business was bunk. As a young adult, however, I enjoy going back to synagogue and learning more about my Jewish heritage because it reminds me of an overall very happy childhood. Was this an active "Engineering" of my interests? I certainly didn't do it on purpose. But I think through similar associations, we can do something of the sort if we really choose to.
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
Does society need more interdisciplinary work? Or more well-rounded individuals working together?
For me personally, the question of specializing in one field versus focusing on a lot of diverse areas has an important temporal aspect. Often, it seems important to learn one subject really well. Before a test, trying to get a job, training for a job, or even just studying a specific area for pleasure. I think that in the long-run, however, it is important both to have experiences in specific areas as well as a broad interdisciplinary base. This has some interesting analogs to human health and biology: I liken focusing on a specific area to a sprint, working those fast-twitch muscle analogs in the brain, working to all but exhaust your curiosity. Interdisciplinary learning is more like running a marathon--It is really a life-long journey, and it exercises your mind in a different way. Ultimately, you need to practice both to have a healthy background, but it is clear why certain situations require one style of learning or the other.
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
How are different body parts connected to the emotions we traditionally associate with them?
Hi Daniel, Thanks again for the poem. I'm thinking of sharing it with my class tonight. What aspect of "modern day science" do you suggest accounts for "this delusion" of the heart pumping our blood through the capillaries? Also recall, science has also shown us the network of smooth muscle which assists the arteries and arterioles, while skeletal muscle movement predominantly accounts for circulation of blood through the veins. Could this what you mean when you say the blood moves on its own?
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
What is the power behind a shared experience?
I've pondered the deeper question "What am I?" to conclude that, on some level, I am the conscious and subconscious manifestation of myself as an entity, as I occur to myself (circular, sure, but bear with me). But then I ask myself, why stop there? What about the projections of the entity that is me onto the conscious and subconscious of my friends, family, acquaintances, and even to strangers, to whom I am just one infinitesimal unit of the greater entity that is humanity? Now suppose there were some way to take those projections and read them from someone's mind. Each person's view of me is like a picture from another angle. What makes any one person's angle more valid than another? What makes my own conception of me more important than anyone else's? Is the me in my mind somehow innately more me than the me in their mind? After all, the nature of these different "me's" is ultimately the same: it is the projection of this entity onto a conscious and subconscious. How many times have you been confronted with an experience in which you see that someone else knows you better than you do yourself? I am at once an entity and a perception of that entity. As a somewhat sentient creature, I invoke Descartes here: cogito ergo sum. By this tenet, I argue that the perception of myself outweighs the reality of being myself. I could depart with these hands, these legs, this torso, this face, and my identity would remain so long as I can perceive and be capable of self-awareness. But then again, what makes my perception of myself superior to the perception of me by others? I'm not religious, so I'm always surprised when I find myself quoting the Bible. I heard "Esto Les Digo" by Kinley Lange in Spanish before I did in English, and I didn't have any idea it was biblical. Some text from the song: "Donde dos o tres, se reunen en mi nombre, alli estoy yo en medio de ellos." English: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I, in the midst of them."
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
How are different body parts connected to the emotions we traditionally associate with them?
Hi Jaana, thanks for the response! Concerning the origin of these parts of language, I hadn't even considered belief systems. When you think about it though, it makes a lot of sense: Just think about how often people make reference to the New Testament in predominantly Christian societies in everyday language. Next time someone sneezes, rather than saying "Bless you!" I'll try saying "Sorry your nose feels weird!" and see how that goes over. But of course you can tell that, as a Science and Engineering Student, my interests lie predominantly in the hints that language and emotion can give us about the body and biology and vice-versa. Given that we, here, are drawing a strong connection between language and religion, would it be too completely heretical of me to ask if there is a connection between someone's belief system and biology? Before you jump out of your seat, no, I'm not claiming that the Bible was just people's minds playing tricks on themselves. There's a body of anthropological research pointing to a natural human tendency to have some form of religion, supernatural beliefs, etc. This is a rhetorical question because I don't think Science is at a place where we can answer it, nor would it be proper of us to speculate here, but does Biology play a role in this human tendency toward religion? If so, via what mechanism? Does it also exist in animals?
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Andrew Leader
Posted over 2 years ago
How are different body parts connected to the emotions we traditionally associate with them?
Great question. Glad you asked. I suppose this is important to discuss in order to best appreciate the responses I've been getting from some very diverse contingents. First, I think we're in the same camp in that I'm primarily interested in using this conversation to find more scientifically plausible connections between "mind and body," such as those I outline at the top of the conversation. Moving on to the question at hand, I think many scientists--as well as lay people who value science--tend to subscribe to some level of scientism, "a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints." (from wikipedia) (not to be confused with science itself). But there are many important questions that are simply not appropriately addressed by the scientific method. For example: Certain historical questions are best tested by gathering primary sources and making inferences. In the comment I just directed you toward, I mention that the existence of a supernatural deity is beyond scientific inquiry, as it can neither be proven nor disproven through reproducible testing of a hypothesis. It seems to me that the popularity of science as one of mankind's most important philosophical instruments has risen greatly over the past centuries, particularly with the industrial revolution and the technological age. However, I think scientism has come with it to a great degree. In my opinion, scientism has something of an uglier face, having been used time and time again to justify experiments that would today be considered unethical and to support debunked theories such as racial Darwinism. This said, I respect the less scientifically oriented posts on this conversation topic so long as they do not purport to be scientific results. Thank you for helping me keep a watch on this. What do you think?