21 February 2012

Wise Words from Brian

This was taken from an article written by Brian Cox about how Quantum Theory is so often misunderstood in society. He makes an excellent closing point that we need to rediscover the wonder of science - and use language that evokes the imagination. The full article is here.

"To understand something as simple as a rainbow, we have to allow each single particle of light to explore the entire universe on its journey through the rain. This is magical, and there is plenty more in the library of science. We have landed on a world where the faint sun glints off methane lakes, seen stars the size of cities spin hundreds of times a second, and taken photographs of light from the beginning of time that has journeyed for over thirteen billion years to reach us. This is true wonder, with the power to deliver a dizzying feeling, the craving for which might be seen as the very definition of what it means to be human.

Recognizing the innate human desire to be dazzled is the key to understanding why some people are drawn to pseudo-scientific drivel; it delivers wonder, albeit chimeric. But herein lies a clue as to where the cure for irrationality lies, because reality is strange and beautiful enough to satisfy the most veracious imagination. In order to build a more scientific society, therefore, I argue that scientists must not be afraid to speak of their discoveries in language that fires the imagination and satiates the innate human need for wonder, because wonder is a doorway to a deeper appreciation and understanding of science. This is the language of popular culture, which is by definition the dominant source of information for the majority in society. If we can persuade enough people that science is as wonderful as it is useful, then we will be far better equipped as a civilization to face the great challenges of the 21st century."

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