Falling for Science
“This is a book about science, technology, and love,” writes Sherry Turkle. In it, we learn how a love for science can start with a love for an object--a microscope, a modem, a mud pie, a pair of dice, a fishing rod. Objects fire imagination and set young people on a path to a career in science. In this collection, distinguished scientists, engineers, and designers as well as twenty-five years of MIT students describe how objects encountered in childhood became part of the fabric of their scientific selves. In two major essays that frame the collection, Turkle tells a story of inspiration and connection through objects that is often neglected in standard science education and in our preoccupation with the virtual.
The senior scientists’ essays trace the arc of a life: the gears of a toy car introduce the chain of cause and effect to artificial intelligence pioneer Seymour Papert; microscopes disclose the mystery of how things work to MIT President and neuroanatomist Susan Hockfield. The student essays tell stories that echo these narratives: plastic eggs in an Easter basket reveal the power of centripetal force; experiments with baking illuminate the geology of planets; LEGO bricks model worlds, carefully engineered and colonized.
About the Editor
Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A psychoanalytically trained sociologist and psychologist, she is the author of The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, MIT Press), Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution. She is the editor of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, and The Inner History of Devices, all three published by the MIT Press.
"Turkle's thought-provoking collection represents an admirable invitation to further exploration of science and human sensibility, of the mysterious web of human choice and feeling."—American Scientist
"We live in the era of big science, with teams of hundreds of scientistsporing over data on computer screens. In this sparkling collection, giftedstudents and world-class scientists remind us of the irreplaceable role oftangible objects, sensory impressions, and powerful experiences in theformation of the scientist."
—Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"'No ideas but in things,' wrote the poet William Carlos Williams. SherryTurkle's eloquent and inspiring book brings the poet's insight to life. Sheshows us the things-to-think-with that brought generations of scientists totheir vocations. Just as a butterfly may spark a hurricane, as wires andsockets brought a ten-year-old Richard Feynman to physics, objects spark thecuriosity of young scientists. In an age when science education is incrisis, this splendid book offers us new insight about bringing young peopleinto science. By looking at objects we see, in Turkle's terms, theconnection between 'science, technology, and love.'"
—Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, and author of The Singularity Is Near: When HumansTranscend Biology
"With characteristic brilliance, Turkle reminds us of the power of artifacts that change lives that go on to change the world. After reading this book, you will never look at a cherished old toy—or scientific discoveryin the same way again."
Paul Saffo, Technology Forecaster
"In the knowledge economy of the 21st century, a solid grounding in science and math is essential for our graduates to successfully compete in the global marketplace. The essays in Falling for Science deftly portray the impact that interaction with everyday objectsa cardboard box, a stop sign, or a ring of keyscan have on the cultivation of a lifelong passion for scientific discovery, a passion that led many of the essayists into careers devoted to finding solutions to the world's most pressing problems."
—Lou Anna K. Simon, President, Michigan State University