Science and Stuff

Saturday was Earth Day and March for Science day. I almost went to the march, but did not. It’s okay though, because I made it a point to like all the Facebook posts of friends who did go.  (That last sentence was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek but really just makes me feel sad for reasons I can’t unpack at the moment.)

It so happens that I am reading a science-type book during treadmill sessions at the gym.

It’s called How to Defeat Your Own Clone: And Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution. how to defeat coverIt’s written by some smart bio-engineers who know stuff and write well for the layperson, so I am enjoying it.

I have a special interest in clones of late, in relation to a project I’m working on, which is probably how I stumbled onto this book online, but I think it was not clones that inspired me to buy it.

Via Amazon’s “look inside”feature, I was able to read the first few pages of the book and can across this paragraph:

“Not infrequently, the answer to an innovation’s dangers is more innovation. When human beings first started to congregate in large cities, disease grew to be such a problem that there was serious speculation that living in large cities was unnatural and unavoidably dangerous.  People were not meant to live so close to one another. Cities were a disastrous and doomed experiment in living!

Then plumbing happened.”

This interested me, both at face value — and in how it views about science as a creative problem-solving process.

In creating narrative, there’s an idea that if you “paint yourself into a corner ” you’ll be pressured into finding some amazing way out of your predicament.  So in this way you can force yourself to come up with a more brilliant solution than had you played it safe.

Sometimes though, the brilliant solution takes too long to arrive, and you have a deadline, so you just have the crumple paper into a ball, through it away, and start from scratch.

So in honor of Earth Day, I wondered which way Earth is headed. Maybe, if we keep polluting, it will force our scientists to perfect the special bacteria that can eat all the pollution from the air, or fake clouds that can patch  holes  in the ozone layer.

Or maybe we’ll have to resort to the crumpled paper scenario.  I’m not sure what the Earth-sized,  metaphorical equivalent to that is, but it seems grim.

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