Friday, December 4, 2015

Ernie Margheim on Learning

Note: I recently scanned several hundred emails that my dad wrote to his friends and family in the last 15 years of his life. I'm going to occasionally share some of his writings for anyone who wants a glimpse inside that sharp and curious mind.

In an email to a former co-worker in July 2008 he said "Never a dull moment after you retire if you have a computer!"

In that email he relates his wonder at the process of Learning. Please keep in mind Dad is sharing the thoughts of an 87 year old man who was raised on a farm and attended a country school in Kansas. 

"I had always wondered about that Continental Shelf, and now it's shown on a photo from the Space Station. I wonder how deep the Shelf is and then how deep the ocean is beyond the Shelf. I guess a person could get that data through a search on Google. I've stumbled onto some of the most trivial and apparent insignificant information that way. Like how far it is to the Sun. How long does it take for a light beam to travel from the Sun to Earth, etc. What is the chemistry of the ocean water beneath Antarctica. I learned that the chemistry of the water below Antarctica has a bearing on the weather of the earth. Amazing how science has figured those things out. 

Mind you that water chemistry I referred to is identified in Molecules. Now that is a pretty small piece of evidence. And another term you often see is Protons. When I took Physics in high school (1940) I don't even remember the term "protons". As I recall the smallest element was the Cell. Now they even have diagrams of the behavior of Atoms that make up a molecule. Recently I read of the bending of light as it comes from the Sun to the Earth. Even the gravitational forces of planets affect the beam of light on its path to the Earth. How they can identify that is beyond my comprehension. Isn't it wonderful to be living in a day and age when these discoveries are presented in a simple manner that even an average "man on the street" can relate to. In the process of learning, we are limited to comprehend what is presented by what we can relate to. We have to take that new information and relate it to something we already know. Our learning process is progressive. So much of learning today is intangible. How can we relate something to something that we cannot see? We sure are fortunate to be living in the present day and age. A lot of all this exciting learning is made possible through our computers! A special thanks to the people who make it available on the internet!

There is a web site named "How Stuff Works" that goes into lengthy detail to explain the workings of stuff. Most of it is over my head but you get the general drift of how it works. Again, the more we already know, the more we learn by being able to relate it to something we already know. Who wants to watch TV with all the same stuff over and over?"   

1 comment:

Pflughoeft said...

What a great email from the past and so relevant to the present!!! Reading your dad's words was an eye-opener for all that we take for granted today. So much is available on the internet, more than we can ever learn for sure...but it is there and just waiting for us!! Reading through this "learning" email brought up memories of my Granny taking me to the Larned library and we would bury ourselves in all the books of "how things work" before the internet...BUT I think my Granny Marlett would have loved this new science, the internet, and all it offers. Thanks so much for sharing your dad's words on LEARNING...looking forward to more from Ernie!!!