It’s that time of year again. How do I know? Not because the kids are swarming the elementary school at the bottom of my hill or the stores are full of backpacks and spiral-bound notebooks, but because I had a school anxiety dream.
Everyone has their own version of these. Mine usually involve being in a class I don’t understand, trying to convince the teacher that I am way too old to be in school.
This time, instead of dismissing the dream as nothing more than a stress response to my own kids returning to school, I got to thinking: what if I explore the areas where I might benefit from going back to school? Sure, I’m way past school age, but that doesn’t mean I can’t expand my mind. What lessons are out there waiting for me? How might I approach old situations in a new way? Could I, perhaps, even become something new?
It’s worth considering.
However, I promised a reprieve from the heavy-duty posts of the last few months. So that’s as much self-analysis as you’ll get for today. Instead, let’s go back to school together. Let’s take a tour of some of the cool science and philosophy sites I’ve discovered while researching my new novel about the intersection of technology and humanity. (If you follow me on Twitter, you may be aware of some of them.)
Reading just a few stories or watching a video or two from each of these is an education in itself. And, of course, a mighty distraction, but that’s a topic for another post.
“Since September 2012, Aeon has been publishing some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. It asks the biggest questions and finds the freshest, most original answers, provided by world-leading authorities on science, philosophy and society.” Some bite-sized, some long; some written, some video. I love the wide-ranging topics.
“Your weekly digest of all the best of Internet history of science, technology and medicine.” That just about says it all. Science birthdays, links to articles (popular and academic) on physics, astronomy, cartography, medicine, technology, life sciences, chemistry, esoterica, and more. I could—and have—gotten lost in these. I have bookmarked many to come back to. A curated feast.
“MakeUseOf is the world’s leading destination for learning more about technology and the many ways that it can improve your life.” From the practical (“Turn your phone into a personal security device for emergencies”) to the not-so (“How to make your own Dr. Who adventure for the BBC”).
“A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of science.” For those who like to hear from the source rather than reading.
“Science-Based Medicine is dedicated to evaluating medical treatments and products of interest to the public in a scientific light, and promoting the highest standards and traditions of science in health care.” It seems odd to me that presenting this as a favorite site might amount to a political statement. That’s one of the things that fascinates me about the current state of our culture: we argue over who has the right to define what is true.
“Technology isn’t all about bits and processors. It’s the car with no driver, human organs printed in a lab and leisurely flights into space. It’s the future and we’re here to tell you all about it.” Probably the most commercial of the sites, but great for looking ahead.
“TrendHunter.com is the world’s largest, most popular trend community.” More pop culture than deep science, but fascinating nonetheless, and definitely future-focused, featuring everything from gesture-controlling rings to 3-printed medical tools.
I’ll leave you with a taste of one of the recent videos from Aeon.
Where do you go to learn new things? And what do your school-anxiety dreams look like?
From the archives: My last back-to-school post from 2013.