Topics Included On This Web Site

Introduction

All of these topics relate to my Science, Technology & Society [STS] research in some way.

They are all connected to each other in some way.

Some of this may not be immediately obvious until you work your way thru this web site and my specific interests in STS research.

Beginning of STS Research

I have always been interested in how science and technology relates to human endeavors – society.

When I taught organic chemistry, the Weizmann process was included in the first edition of the text by Morrison and Boyd. It was later dropped from other editions.

Very simply, this process made use of microorganisms in fermentation on carbohydrates to make a mixture of organic compounds. It was natural and it did not depend on making these organic compounds in the lab or industrially. Today, many organic compounds are made by fermentation – drugs, ethanol for fuel, food ingredients, etc. Many foods make use of fermentation to make them into something more digestible and attractive [e.g., bread, cheese, coffee, soy sauce, etc.].

The political and religious aspects of Chiam Weizmann were also interesting and students responded accordingly, especially when I taught non-science students.

When I got into enology – winemaking – then this Weizmann fermentation process became even more interesting and relevant to what I was doing.

The connection of Weizmann and Churchill and the modernization of the British navy for the preparation for WW I really began to expand on my STS interests into many new and diverse, but all related, directions, as you can see from the lists of my colored slide and PowerPoint presentations. This list continues to expand to areas before and after WW I.

My background information on this web site indicates my specific experience and training in preparation for this STS research.

Some Specifics

As noted many times in other places on my web site, the overall goal of my STS research is to help people better understand STS and better manage it in their everyday lives.

But how to do this most effectively?

Many take a technical approach that many non-science people cannot understand.

Some take a non-science, more sociological approach, but that can minimize the “hard” science and technology aspects.

I try to find a generally acceptable balance, but also in ways that can more readily “penetrate” the gaps between the science and non-science aspects of STS that are understandable to those who are not scientists. Common human experiences with many different aspects may be more effective than very narrow and specific approaches.

Topics

So topics like music [e.g., CD’s, DVD’s, LP’s, radio, etc.] that almost all experience in some way is an attractive approach.

Likewise, history and local attractions can give more meaning to abstract concepts.

Cooking [e.g., bread, clay pot, pizza, etc.] is something we all do in one way or another because we all have to eat to survive.

Computing is certainly pervasive in all of our lives today in so many ways.

Recycling / reuse of many common items in our everyday lives, including computers [vintage computers like the Kaypros], can help to put many STS issues in very immediate and understandable personal terms.

Wine naturally is a beverage of many centuries that has much meaning in many different cultures and lifestyles. In addition, with the great interest in small farm type wineries dating from the late 1960’s, with especially the passage of the PA small farm type limited winery act, local wine and wineries became very prominent and popular.

New developments many are aware of in all these areas can dramatically show how STS is specifically changing our lives. In addition, this can open up the discussion and debates about “good & bad” aspects of each issue with respect to these new developments. This can then lead to possible options to better manage these important issues.

Of course, such options lead into morals, ethics, values, etc. – the society aspects [qualitative / subjective] and not the science and technology aspects [quantitative / objective], in the decision making processes involved.

Much the same approach was taken by the very innovative and creative chemistry textbook, “Chemistry in Context,” by the American Chemical Society, for courses for non-science majors. The basic premise for the book was to try to engage students in meaningful ways that pertain to their personal lives with many of the chemistry related issues of society today.

MY STS research is to try to do many of the same things, but based on my interests and the STS research topics that I have been exploring for many decades, along with what I have found particularly successful from my diverse career.

Because of my very different background compared to many scientists, I am able to better explore certain areas and make them more meaningful to certain segments of the population.

Present

Now that I am formally retired, I have more time for more intensive and extensive STS research.

This web site is one aspect of making this research available to those who are interested.

Depending on what specific interests are shown, articles and books are also planned. Some drafts of various books have been developed. Certainly, computing has made “self publishing” of books much more feasible and realistic than in the past, especially for small niche markets of interest that could not be served in the past because of the many complexities involved with publishing books.

Obviously, PowerPoint and other presentations to those interested is another avenue of making this information available. Lists of what presentations have been prepared and those in various stages of preparation are included on this web site.

Videos on DVD’s and the internet are additional possibilities.

Specifically, my 2008 Trenton Computer Festival [TCF] talk and paper on Kaypro computers, that is also published on their 2008 TCF Digest, is the start of such publication of some of my STS research

Future

I really do not know. It all depends on the response all of this gets. If it is encouraging, I will continue to pursue this STS research in the directions that are suggested.

If it is not encouraging, I will just move on to my many other areas of interest.

Please let me know what you think in any way you feel comfortable with.

Thanks!

Frank