Question: are you really scientiests or just computer nerds madly typing and looking at wickipeader for the answers to these questions

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  1. Ha! Actually I’m a artificial intelligence algorithm running on the University of Queensland’s web server… cleverly disguised with typos and errors.

    Honestly, there is no time to consult wikipedia during a chat session, for us they are incredibly frantic. But I’ll admit to googling for a few answers in the ASK section… for details that I can’t remember, or didn’t know in the first place.

    And no, I’m not a *computer* nerd – I’m a physics nerd! ๐Ÿ˜€


  2. I’ll admit to being a *bit* of a computer nerd, but I’m really a scientist too (honest)! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    There’s definitely no time to check wikipedia during the chat sessions – everything is happening way to quickly! Like Matthew, I have used google to double check a couple of details for the answers here, but if I don’t know the answer, then I’ll say so ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Great question clarkie,

    I am a computer nerd in that I would be really stuck without one (I have one at work, one at home, one on my phone etc etc)…. but I have little idea about what makes them actually work, or how to fix the technical errors that arise every now and again. As Matthew & Simon said there is no time for checking answers during a live chat – so they represent my raw thoughts, without the ability to self edit and check etc.

    I have had to verify a few things on the internet – not so much wikipedia, that were outside my knowledge. Examples being the science of octopus communication and then today I had to check how many species of Galapagas turtles exist. Also because sometimes we get questions sent to all of us, I have been asked many physics & space questions, and if Simon & Matthew had not put up answers I usually “googled” them to see what they were about.

    But yes, I am a scientist and a lot of science & research is following lines of inquiry and knowledge gathering. So in my job I do a lot of web based searching to find information, people, funding opportunities, documents, existing projects and programs that other people may be doing that are similar etc.

    As an lecturer, I find that many students use web sites as their first source of knowledge for essays etc. and while the traditional academics frown on this, I think it is becoming more accepted (as long as it is not copied). Having said that, our university now uses software to catch students that have copied work from the internet and wikipedia is one site they monitor closely.

    As for madly tying – yes ๐Ÿ˜€ I only caught up on answering questions today…

    Again, great question ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Ha ha, you guys ask the funniest questions! Actually you make an interesting point – it would be possible to answer some of the questions by looking at Wikipedia (and I’ve done that for a few questions). Wiki is really useful when you want to get some information quickly about a topic, but it should never be used as your primary source of scientific information because it is not reliable (anyone can write anything on wiki). Often I use it to point me in the right direction for some more reliable information, or at least to figure out exactly what question I need to ask.

    Its also important to realise that we don’t know everything! Nobody knows everything. We are all experts in our own little areas of science, but there’s a huge amount of stuff we don’t know. Being a scientist is not about knowing stuff, its about knowing how to find the answers to questions.


  5. Wow penetrating question! Checking on credibility – good on you, thatโ€™s a valuable scientific trait! ๐Ÿ˜€

    As has been said there is no time for checking anything during the CHAT sessions! Enough time to read the question and respond, is about it. Often without checking or editing, particularly when things are really frantic!

    As far as the ASK section goes, again there were so many questions there simply wasnโ€™t time to wikipedia answers I didnโ€™t know. Often they were space or physics that some of the other scientists answered really well (thank goodness), so I left it to them! Other questions I didnโ€™t know – just said so. Yes, I did quickly access resources to clarify points or follow-up with some questions that were on the fringe of my knowledge (e.g. how dangerous was a King Cobra – knew venom toxicity was low, but not how deadly it was). For the most part however, I looked to answer questions I had a reasonable understanding of or knew well. ๐Ÿ˜€

    NO I definitely wouldnโ€™t consider myself a computer nerd – have little idea how they work, just pleased they do. In fact, some years ago I switched to Apple Macs because I was fed-up with having to fix issues on my PC. And my typing skills are a little slow – as has been borne out in the Chats.

    As Mark said, I think we would all be lost without our computers! Computers have become a valuable tool to aid us in what we do, but they are not the focus of our science. And yes we are all scientists! ๐Ÿ˜€



  1. Oh and I should add, I am also a bit of a nerd….


  2. Awesome question