Friday, November 4, 2011

*** interview with the Admin of Science Forums ***

Science Forums ( is a nice Forum for Science lovers in each field. It has about 60,000 members and I think it’s very useful for everyone, however it will improve and become better day by day…

This was a good chance for me to interview with the Admin of this forum which I think it’s useful for everyone to read this interview.

The Admin of the at this time is “Cap’n Refsmmat”. This is a different alias! And when I asked about its meaning, I get this answer:

Ah! "Cap'n Refsmmat" is taken out of a book I was reading when I first signed up on SFN. It was a joke from NASA in the early days of spaceflight. The term "refsmmat" means "reference to a stable member matrix," and refers to a mathematical tool used in navigation, where the spacecraft would use the positions of various stars to determine its orientation.

Apparently, one day in Mission Control, two NASA guys were talking when one noticed another controller leaving an I-owe-you note next to the coffee pot. He hadn't met this controller before, so he asked his buddy who it was. "Oh, that's Captain Refsmmat!", he replied, as a joke.

Once news of the joke spread around, another NASA guy made a large cartoon poster of Cap'n Refsmmat, the "ideal flight controller," complete with his radar helmet, slide rule, and glasses engraved with the correct de-orbit attitude for the spacecraft.

Here's a picture:

Now Read the interview below:

1_Please introduce yourself.

I'm Cap'n Refsmmat, and I've been an SFN administrator since the end of 2006. I'm a 19-year-old physics student at a Texas university with three semesters left to go.

2_ when you become interested in science? and what fields of sciences was more interesting for you?
I got into science when I was very young. In elementary school I told my parents I wanted to become a rich inventor, and I owned quite a few science books. Eventually I joined SFN when I was 12.
I've since focused on physics, and that's now what I'm aiming for a degree in. Physics fascinates me because of its strangeness. At times it makes completely counter-intuitive predictions -- but they're borne out by experiment. The universe is an interesting place.

3_ when you started Science forum and what's your aim(s) from it? what do you think about it proceeds?
SFN was first started by blike and fafalone back in 2002. I can't speak for them, but I believe their aim was to create a site for those interested in science (like themselves) to discuss it openly. That's worked fairly well. We've been running now for nine years, with a steady rate of activity for the past five. My biggest current challenge is devising means of encouraging more activity and growth, but we have a few ideas in the pipeline.

4_ can you explain about your future programs for Science Forum and its members?
Unfortunately I can't go into much detail here, since the biggest potential program is not yet finalized. We're working on a partnership with another organization, but still have to sort out the details.
In the coming months we'll also be upgrading our forum software to the latest version and working on ways to promote the Science Forums Blogs more effectively. Our blogs are a brilliant platform for the public discovery of science, but they're not marketed or flaunted on SFN very well. I'd like to give our bloggers a larger audience.

5_ what's problems about Science and education in your country and in the world? can you render solution?
Science education brings with it some tremendous challenges. Basic scientific literacy is more important than ever in our highly technological society, but our teaching methods have hardly changed in decades. If we're to advance education, we need bold new ideas -- and not just ideas for better textbooks, more funding, and more computers, but ideas for entirely new teaching strategies.
The Khan Academy ( is an example of one educational idea that I find brilliant. The goal isn't to replace teachers with a series of videos and electronic exercises; the goal is to free teachers from giving lectures, so they can spend more time doing what's important: working with students to understand their misunderstandings and solve interesting problems.
I'd like to see more of this. I'd like to see teachers able to work interactively with students to improve their understanding, rather than being forced to stand in front of the class and lecture for an hour. I'm sure there's plenty of other good ideas out there, and as popularizers of science, we need to embrace them.

6_ I write some words, please write your opinion about each word:

Science: The process by which we learn more about the universe. And who doesn't want to know how the world works?
Internet: Fascinating. I've grown up with the Internet, so I'm in no place to imagine what the world would be like without it. I'm continually amazed by my ability to think "I wonder how that works..." and find the answer in thirty seconds on Google.
Forum: A place for anyone to discuss and learn new ideas.
Future: I just can't wait to be 75, so I can grumpily tell my grandchildren how when I was their age, we didn't have any of this fantastic new technology...
Earth: A pale blue dot. (
Globalization: Every day on SFN I see members from the United States, India, Germany, the UK, China, and the Philippines. Strange to believe that we can all converse in real time.
Civilization: Seventy years from now, I wonder what we'll look back at and say, "wow, they were so uncivilized back then."
Humanity: We're such a weird species.
Mathematics: I wish I had more time to spend understanding this subject, because it's fascinating -- and it's surprising how many broad uses it has (
Astronomy: I'd like to be paid to stare at things billions of light-years away...

7_ what's your recommendation to the users of science forum? what's your recommendation to other forums like Science forum in other countries?
The public understanding of science is still lacking, and our goal should be to help improve it. If you're running a science forum of your own, think about what you can do to help teach science, correct misconceptions, or encourage greater interest in science. We're still a long way from success.

8_ if you think that you should say something to the readers of this interview, please feel free...
Learn about effective communication and teaching! We scientists -- and ordinary science hobbyists -- need to be better about communicating with the public.

I hope this interview would be useful for you. Please feel free to leave a comment.

my Profile on Science Forums: