Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quantity Quest 7/09/09

Healthy is the conflict between the limits of our understanding and the need to gain more.

DB - The Vagabond
Come with me.
One day, some years ago, I went into the Museum of Natural History on West 79th Street in New York City, a place I enjoyed visiting frequently since I was a boy. On that day, just inside the door, there was a table draped in black cloth with two armed guards next to it. On the table was a box made out of bullet proof glass on all four sides and the top. Inside the box there was a pedestal. On the pedestal was a small tripod. And sitting on the tripod was an object about the size of the end of your thumb. It was well lit from all directions. It sparkled innocently.

What was it? A fabulously valuable diamond? The key to paradise? A winning lottery ticket?

It was none of those, or all of those. It was a gift to the Museum from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It was a piece of the precious cargo brought back to earth by the Apollo 11 astronauts.


I stared at that wee pebble for quite a while. "It's just a rock. What's the big deal?" Imagine what Socrates, Copernicus or Galileo would say if they could have looked that stone in the eye. They could tell you what the big deal is.

NASA has a TV program about the Apollo 11 mission which they show occasionally on their TV channel. In it there's a picture of a scientist studying a moon rock. Is he a geologist, a chemist, a physicist? Seeing that picture I hear the rumblings of centuries of scientific curiosity, investigation and discovery. I hear the silent high tide waves of everything that scientist knows as he peers in awe at a bit of the universe he has never seen before and ponders it's secrets.

We can never understand enough. How exciting it is to discover some new knowledge, to have the freedom to discover. There are those who would clamp down a lid on investigation and innovation. We may even do that ourselves. What a shame.

But as long as we exist we will walk on the starscapes of the mind, pick up the rocks and discover their secrets. We have only just begun.

May joy fall on your head.


Big Mark 243 said...

That was a cool quote to go with this entry. We have to want to know more, in order to apprieciate the wonders that are before us.

Not a problem in asking 'Why' as it is a problem to go off in our own ignorance.

Coy said...

May joy fall on your head as well my friend.
*** Coy ***

Beth said...

It distresses me when I hear people say that we shouldn't continue to fund space missions. I think that is a very bad idea, because the knowledge we gain is incredible, and eventually applicable to our lives right here on our little chunk of the universe. :) Hugs, Beth

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

The final frontier.

Bonnie Bonsai said...

Very interesting read from an erudite person who seems to have an endless knowledge. It pays to read. I like your Thoughts. They may sound Vagabond ...but your WELL is depth and stable on the ground. Thanks for the visit.

Kindly visit This Rock.

And may I have your permission to use your Personal Quote to post in my Adage, Maxim and Quote, Please?

I'll be honoured.