Guest blog by Carl Martin, author of Edge of Remembrance: Gods and Dragons
The Beauty of Science
Do you love science as much as I do? I love the patterns in nature that make certain types of events predictable. The truly good scientists are the ones who discover those patterns and make sense of them. Those patterns reveal to us the more meaningful, cause-and-effect coincidences of nature.
I’ve been an artist, a mathematician, a computer scientist and an astronomer. I’ve studied history, geology, archaeology, genetics, paleoclimate, oceanography and volcanology. And, as a former, professional artist, I’ve developed quite a skill at detecting patterns. For instance, when I was studying electronic engineering in the mid- to late-70s, I came across something called a tank circuit. This is basically a tuning or LC circuit for sending and receiving broadcast signals—a coil and capacitor in parallel.
Suddenly, some of my high school lessons in physics and astronomy came back to me. I remembered how certain gaseous elements, when stimulated, could emit patterns of electromagnetic frequencies that were unique to each element. I also remembered how stars, like our own sun, absorb light in their upper atmospheres, but most strongly at certain specific frequencies which tell us the elements in that atmosphere. Suddenly, I realized that I was surrounded by trillions of tank circuits. You see, every atom is both a coil and a capacitor—electrons orbiting their nuclei (coil), and negative electrons separated by a space from positive nuclei (capacitor). I was seeing part of the beauty of science.
I suspect that none of my fellow students ever had this realization. When I would mention this discovery, I would receive only blank stares or confused nods. Alas! They could not see the beauty of science that I had seen.
The Ugliness of Ego
We humans are a strange lot. We value the discoveries of science and the humble sacrifice of heroes, but when it comes to our own, personal vulnerability, most of us will protect ourselves with an unreasonable passion. This is ego speaking—the heart of selfishness.
It should not come as a surprise, but scientists are also human with fragile egos. Scientists can, at times, protect their own frailties with vicious energy.
In North American anthropology, for instance, scientists were, for decades, warned against digging below the Clovis horizon. “There’s nothing there,” some might say. “Clovis is first! You don’t want to jeopardize your career, sticking your nose and spade where it shouldn’t be going.”
Science by ridicule and harassment? Regrettably, anthropology is not the only field to suffer the brutal heavy-handedness of ego. More recently, climate scientists have been attacked for being “climate change deniers.” Why? Because they don’t tow the currently popular political line of human caused dangerous global warming. Why such harsh language? Why the inaccurate ridicule? All climate scientists know, in their bones, that climate always changes and always has—4.5 Billion years of changes, ever since Earth gained an atmosphere. There is no denial of climate change on their part.
The reason is political. Someone is trying to “sell” an idea and those who don’t go along are the enemy. Ironically, “evil” global warming made civilization possible 12,000 years ago. And for those who claim the modern rate of warming is bad, that same warming 12,000 years ago was nearly eight times more rapid than the UN’s as yet unrealized horror story. That long ago warming bless our world with +7°C in 30 years. And the biggest disconnect with those scientists who proclaim global warming to be dangerous comes from the fact that we still live in an Ice Age. Our current Holocene interglacial is only one of dozens of interglacials experienced in our current, 2.6-million-year-old Ice Age. Melting ice in an Ice Age is a good thing for life, because life dies in the ice and thrives in the warmth. This should be painfully obvious. If it weren’t the case, then the poles would be crowded and the tropics starkly empty.
Protecting the Beauty of Science
When I wrote the pair of novels, Edge of Remembrance, I had this one ideal in mind: protecting the beauty of science against the ravages of egoistic scientists, self-proclaimed “skeptics” and those who merely have delusions of logical grandeur. I had hoped, through science fiction, that I could reveal the delicate nature of science and how scientists, with their egos, can abuse and even trash that institution.
The novel is about Plato’s lost island empire, Atlantis. While we don’t yet have proof it ever existed, we do have a growing mountain of evidence in support of its past existence.
The fact that scientists dismiss the idea of Atlantis without investigating is troubling at the very least. They are ignoring the beauty of science in favor of their own ugly egos. Their “know-it-all” attitude is making them blind. Their sense of smug superiority is crippling them at the verge of discovery. This is not science, but some form of new religion, where tradition is held over evidence and discovery—where cordial debate is lost to unsupported dismissiveness and self-indulgent ridicule. I’ve even had some friends do this. I trampled their turf and they reacted, rather than discussed.
In the novels, American archaeologist Gunter Jürgens makes the discovery of a lifetime. In a newly exposed pyramid in Nicaragua, his team uncovers a time capsule with a map of Old Atlantis embossed in gold on the outside. But Jürgens is wise. He knows that his fellow scientists are not above self-indulgent ridicule when the evidence is still fresh. He bides his time and waits before stating the obvious: everything about the Nicaraguan time capsule points to the fact that Atlantis was a very real place.
But that’s the novel and its sequel. Was Atlantis real? We don’t know, yet. The beauty of science is not “skepticism,” for that paradigm is fraught with bias, particularly the potent bias of “doubt.” Just look up the definition! The true paradigm of science is one of restraint and humility—humility to truth, whatever that truth turns out to be. Too many scientists get in their own way and trample the beauty of science. They say things in all arrogance and haughty ego that should not have been said. They condemn that which their “precious” tradition has taught them is impossible. Yet, no one truly knows everything. There really are more things to be discovered and they cannot be discovered if we put on blinders or pretend that we do know.