Can People Become Experts without the Experience?

By Charles Q. Choi  

"The dozen students and scientists spread over an area called Furnace Creek looked like cyborgs in floppy hats scrabbling over the boulders. Before hammering chips off rocks, they inspected them with magnifying lenses held up next to eyeglasses sporting miniature cameras and infrared lights.

A seasoned geologist could tease out a history of earthshaking clashes here from evidence in the terrain—a break in a steep grey slope, for instance, suggested a fault at work fracturing the landscape. The aim now of the cameras was to see how researchers' eyes darted across this scene, to figure out how experienced minds unconsciously scan the world for clues that point the way to discoveries.

On this expedition out in Death Valley—where driest, hottest and lowest places on the continent are found — the scientists are investigating how geologists view landscapes, but such research could very well delve into how detectives analyze crime scenes or soldiers look for camouflaged targets or distinguish between friend and foe when storming rooms. Researchers then perhaps could train neophytes with virtual reality displays that simulate environments of interest." 

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