The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Virtual Drug Testing' versus Education

Bob Sechler in today's Wall Street Journal reports that GE Global Research, Simcyp Ltd. and Pfizer, among others, have "developed software that simulates the complex chemistry of living organisms" in order to run virtual tests of new drugs.

At first, I could hardly believed this worked, because the human body is so complex, but, apparently, they're able to use this technology to weed out "sure-fire losers." "...high speed processors and other technological advancements are enabling relatively small-scale simulations--of particular organs, for instance--to be integrated into increasingly complete software-based 'virtual humans'..." It's saving the companies millions and reducing human risk.

What an amazing application of reason and creativity!

But it made me sad to think of the field of education, in contrast, which mainly uses the same methods it did 100 years ago.

Sure, schools continue to adopt new material technologies, like the Internet, web-casting, and white boards, all well and good. Hopefully, the new Prado Museum Google Earth project will be tapped, also. But in terms of method - lectures, tests, memorization of data - are centuries old!

We're just damn lucky that the researchers who graduate from mostly traditional schools are able to develop such a high level of creativity.

(I'm terribly sorry, after 20 minutes of searching on the Journal's website, I was not able to find the article - saw it in hardcopy only.)

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