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Dive into Questions and Grow into Knowledge

I’ve been working on a project this past week with a couple of young people. I’m impressed with two things. First, they have more energy than I have. Second, I have more experience than they have. While energy is great, relying on experience often means I know how to do things “smarter,” using less energy. I know I sound like an old guy now (and I am) but it also causes me to remember how much I’ve learned from so many other people over the years. For that I am grateful!

Last week we talked about how important mastery of the basics is. If you haven’t mastered operation of your imager or the basics of heat transfer, get out a calendar and commit yourself to a plan to do so.

I also recommend keeping a list of questions you encounter. Jot them down in a notebook or on your computer. Questions like, “Why do the reflections of the ducks appear warmer than the ducks themselves?” (See below for a discussion.) Or one of my all-time favorites, “Can we see an infrared rainbow?” (Short answer: yes, but not with the technology you and I can afford!) There will be, of course, hundreds of seemingly more relevant questions to be listed and answered.

Some of the best questions are “dumb” questions, those asked in innocence or ignorance! Don’t be embarrassed by dumb questions—unless those are all you ever ask!—but embrace and learn from them. There are also many useful questions to which there are no ready answers; these cause us to stretch and seek and, I find, often lead us to new and important places.

Students in our training courses often remind us how important hands-on discovery is in the learning process. They don’t want to hear us lecture, they want to explore and discuss with others. Learning doesn’t get any better than hashing things out with each other!

I often find setting up a simple experiment with a friend can help us understand an unknown issue or answer a question. Together we can provide a valuable “check and balance” for each other and test our knowledge in several ways. At that point we can also validate it against what others have learned. If it still passes the test, only then can we cautiously accept it as a working hypothesis.

If you are going to grow in this profession, you’ll need to become an expert. Don’t duck away from what you don’t know. Dive into it and learn! And by all means explore and learn with your professional colleagues—they too will have a long list of great, dumb questions.


Why do the reflections of the ducks appear warmer than the ducks themselves?

• Radiance from just water = emission from water + reflection from clear (cold) sky
• Radiance from duck reflection = emission from water + reflection from clear (cold) sky + reflection from side of duck.
• Radiance from topside of duck = emission from (wet) duck + reflection from cold sky.
• Radiance from side of duck = emission from duck + reflection from water
• Duck reflection = reflection of emitting/reflecting duck + reflection of sky + emission of water

So…if the topside of the duck is cooler than the water, then the reflection should appear warmer than both the water and the topside of the duck.

Adding the duck’s reflection to the water’s emission/reflection makes it appear slightly warmer than all else.

Thinking Thermally,
John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

I’ve been working on a project this past week with a couple of young people. I’m impressed with two things. First, they have more energy than I have. Second, I have more experience than they have. While energy is great, relying on experience often means I know how to do things “smarter,” using less energy. I know I sound like an old guy now (and I am) but it also causes me to remember how much I’ve learned from so many other people over the years. For that I am grateful!

Last week we talked about how important mastery of the basics is. If you haven’t mastered operation of your imager or the basics of heat transfer, get out a calendar and commit yourself to a plan to do so.

Description: :::::Images:Ducks.jpg

I also recommend keeping a list of questions you encounter. Jot them down in a notebook or on your computer. Questions like, “Why do the reflections of the ducks appear warmer than the ducks themselves?” (See below for a discussion.) Or one of my all-time favorites, “Can we see an infrared rainbow?” (Short answer: yes, but not with the technology you and I can afford!) There will be, of course, hundreds of seemingly more relevant questions to be listed and answered.

Some of the best questions are “dumb” questions, those asked in innocence or ignorance! Don’t be embarrassed by dumb questions—unless those are all you ever ask!—but embrace and learn from them. There are also many useful questions to which there are no ready answers; these cause us to stretch and seek and, I find, often lead us to new and important places.

Students in our training courses often remind us how important hands-on discovery is in the learning process. They don’t want to hear us lecture, they want to explore and discuss with others. Learning doesn’t get any better than hashing things out with each other!

I often find setting up a simple experiment with a friend can help us understand an unknown issue or answer a question. Together we can provide a valuable “check and balance” for each other and test our knowledge in several ways. At that point we can also validate it against what others have learned. If it still passes the test, only then can we cautiously accept it as a working hypothesis.

If you are going to grow in this profession, you’ll need to become an expert. Don’t duck away from what you don’t know. Dive into it and learn! And by all means explore and learn with your professional colleagues—they too will have a long list of great, dumb questions.

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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