MOUNT VERNON — Have you ever wondered how a fax machine can take words on a piece of paper, scramble them so they’re sent over a telephone wire, then have them reassembled, in the correct order, on the other end? Have you ever wondered how something as heavy as a jetliner can stay in the air?
Area residents now have a chance to have their curiosity satisfied on topics such as these.
Publisher Kay Culbertson has announced that a new feature designed to answer these questions makes its debut in today’s edition of the Mount Vernon News.
Ask a Scientist will appear on the Entertainment Page each Monday. Members of the community are invited to submit questions on a variety of topics; the questions will be answered by scientists from Kenyon College and the Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
The idea for the column was broached to the News by Yutan Getzler, assistant professor in chemistry at Kenyon College. Getzler first heard of a similar program, started by the National Science Foundation, when he was in graduate school. One of the goals of NSF is for scientists to do outreach.
“I was involved with it, and it was fun,” said Getzler. “It was really neat to connect with someone about science.”
Getzler said that program was heavily involved with school children; working with the program, he said, was, in a way, “reaching back to a young me.”
“I just felt it would be a really neat thing to connect with people in the area about science,” he said.
Getzler said the main goal of the program is “to encourage people’s natural curiosity about the world around them.”
“Pursuing that curiosity is at the heart of science,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do.”
“My grandsons are very curious about the workings of the universe,” said Culbertson. “This column will give them a chance to ask an expert.
“It will also give them a chance to hone their reading skills. I hope all children, and adults, will submit questions and then watch for the answers.”
Participating in programs like Ask a Scientist allows educational institutions to become more involved in the community. There are almost 30 professors from Kenyon and MVNU who have agreed to participate.
“We are always looking for ways to play a larger community role, ... ways to be active in the community,” said Jesse Matz, advisor to Kenyon’s president, S. Georgia Nugent. “We realize that we have the knowledge and expertise that might help people understand topics or issues that are difficult to understand. Scientists are also teachers, and may be able to help explain things.”
Matz said questions do not have to be related solely to the hard sciences, but can also delve into other fields, such as anthropology or psychology.
Questions can be submitted to Cheryl Splain, Editor, P.O. Box 791, Mount Vernon, OH 43050; faxed to 397-1321; or e-mailed to email@example.com. Questions can also be submitted online at www.mountvernonnews.com.
Questions will be forwarded to Getzler, who will, in turn, submit them to the appropriate scientist to answer. Due to the volume of questions received, not every question may be able to be answered.