Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hiroshima, 1945


Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. ... It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. . . . What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. . . .

It happened on this date, this "greatest achievement."

New technology used to "solve" an old problem. We cannot help ourselves.

Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, suggested "we ought to stay out of the nuclei." Until we have a clue what we want, sounds like good advice.

You cannot separate tools from the critters who use them. Teaching science as some compartmentalized thought process without cultural context is a dangerous game.

What is our responsibility as teachers of science?
As citizens of the United States?
As human beings?

(Yes, this is an older post, and a timeless one.)


Unknown said...

There's a Counting Crows song where they compare the splitting of an atom to Humpty Dumpty and I'm inclined to believe them (just as much as I believe that this age needs to remember Icharus and the modern age needed to remember John Henry)

If the "nuclear age" taught us anything, it's that you can't split something as small as an atom and try to make things whole again.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Michael.

Intelligence isn't the answer either or so it seems. There are powerful lessons to be learned even yet but will we learn?

Catchya later

doyle said...

Dear John,

Indeed--and just because we can does not mean we must. But we will--we can't help ourselves.

(I tried to click on Amazon to order your book--the link is not yet live. I'll try again tomorrow.)

Dear Ken,

I bumped your comment up into the next post. There may be a good evolutionary reason why few things are as "intelligent" as humans, and humans have not been around very long.

Unknown said...

Yeah, it's still not up yet. It took longer to send out the proof than I had hoped. I'll create a post for it when it's ready.

Russell Abravanel said...

I hope this is a lesson the world never forgets.