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Re: Paleontology and Dinosaurology 101: What layperson MUST to know about?



\On Sun, February 6, 2011 11:09 am, Raptorial Talon wrote:
> /applauds Dr. Holtz's post/

Thanks.

> I wish scientists in any given field could collectively decide on a
> "mission statement" of what is most critical about their field for the
> public to know, maybe staggered in varying levels of detail, so that a
> consistent response supported by a lot of voices could be delivered
> into the mainstream. Anti-science voices are far more organized and
> media-savvy overall and far more on-point during their time on the
> airwaves, and I have to think it would be highly beneficial if they
> could be matched soundbite for soundbite . . .
>
Many (but by no means all) professional scientific organizations do have
some statement of key principles, but finding a unified trans-discipline
statement for the sciences as a whole is difficult.

However, something like that has been attempted:
Hazen, Robert M. & James Trefil. 2009. Science Matters: Achieving
Scientific Literacy. New Edition. Anchor Books. ISBN-13 978-0-307-45458-4

Each chapter has highlights of the main themes of different scientific
fields. But at this scale, paleontology (for instance) isn't big enough to
stand as its own field, but is rather reflected in geology and
evolutionary biology. Hazen & Trefil try to summarize the key theme of
each field as a bullet point: here they are, organized by chapter:

1. Two ideas:
a. The universe is regular and predictable
b. One set of laws describes all motion
2. Two ideas:
a. Energy is conserved
b. Energy always goes from more useful to less useful forms
3. Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of the same force
4. All matter is made of atoms
5. Two ideas
a. Everything?particles, energy, the rate of electron spin?comes in
discrete units
b. You can?t measure anything without changing it
6. Atoms are held together by electron glue
7. The way a material behaves depends on how its atoms are arranged
8. Nuclear energy comes from the conversion of mass
9. All matter is really just quarks and leptons
10. Stars experience a cycle of birth and death
11. The universe was born at a specific time in the past, and it has been
expanding ever since
12. Every observer sees the same laws of nature
a. For Newton, motion is along curved lines in a flat space
b. For Einstein, motion is along straight lines in a curved space
13. Earth?s surface is constantly changing, and no feature on Earth is
permanent
14. Earth operates in cycles
15. All living things are made from cells, the chemical factories of life
16. All life if based on the same genetic code
17. All life is based on the same chemistry and genetic code
18. All forms of life evolved by natural selection
19. Two ideas:
a. All life is connected
b. You can?t change just one thing in an ecosystem

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA