What is that impulse in streamflow actually about? How typical is it? How frequently has it happened in past? How often will it reoccur? What are it’s implications for floodplain planning?
There’s been a bit of discussion, here and there, about what we should or can expect the electorate of a representative democracy to know about Science. Surely, there’s “school learnin”’, and that’s valuable, but some of the most meaningful interactions with Science come from an individual’s experience of it, in vivo if you will. I recently described, in a comment at a blog how certain experiments as an undergraduate Physics student meant an awful lot to me, even if I had mastered the theory in a book. These were emotional connections. Sure, I had been prepared for this, and had already exhibited some kind of emotional commitment in my desire to remain up, late at night, our in winter, in the cold, in order to observe various stellar things, as part of a local Astronomy club. It’s hand in hand: You can’t do decent amateur Astronomy in New England except in frigid winter, because of the Summer humidity and the associated skyglow from places like Providence and Boston. I’m sure it’s worse now. Going deep north in New England is a help, and I’ve sometimes wondered why people there haven’t tried to capitalize on that.
But, I digress.
There’s something about this, whether it’s streamflow measurements, or taking your own weather measurements at home, or amateur Astronomy which bonds a body to the phenomena and to the process of knowing.
The Web and Internet interactions, despite offering superior measurement technology, never quite replace this experience. There is, I think, something to be argued for this kind of immersive experience in Science.