Sunday, 9 December 2012

Making Wonder out of Chaos

Maybe it's the thing that made us what we are. Not the opposable thumb, not the ability to speak - not that those two things, put together, aren't powerful enough. Bell-ringing, tug-o-war and Rugby Union would all be futile without that combination. But the innate belief that things must make sense. Not necessarily that the universe has a meaning - but that things are capable of rational explanation.

When a scientist takes it that the lawa of physics that apply to this part of space, probably apply to that part too, and their predictions work - there's a wonder to that. When somebody predicts the existence of an element from a spectral line in the Sun's light - and then that element is discovered on earth later - that's an incredible thing.

When you consider that the existence of Neptune was predicted - and that was how they knew where to find it - that's a testament to our need to make patterns: find explanations: make sense of things.

Sir Patrick Moore has died. I loved his Observer book as a child - a book that opened up the beauties of the heavens, and the mythology behind the names of stars. He never seemed to lose that child-like joy of making new discoveries; of always looking for the next new, wonderful horizon.

The communication of Science is a star short tonight.

7 comments :

  1. RIP. I still have my copy of the Observer book!

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    1. I left my copy on a bus to Markyate, and cried my eyes out. The replacement I was bought was terribly out of date. It was called The Story of the Solar System

      Which was the book that inspired Sir Patrick himself.

      I still have that book on my shelf, together with "Astronomy for Amateurs" by Camille Flamarrion. This was originally subtitled "Astronomy for Women". How we have moved on. Except in Religion, of course.

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  2. He was a xylophonist and composer, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=703AFmOd80o

    RIP

    love Mags B x

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  3. A pity. A very great man and also a great character. We could do with more like him.
    May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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  4. Everyone's said it all..RIP indeed. His "child-like joy" caught my imagination as a child in a way that has never left me.

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  5. His enthusiasm was contagious, a great communicator in the charming (serious) amateur tradition that we have in this country, unforgettable.

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  6. Try making sense of X-Factor!

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