This morning I saw a wasp dragging paralyzed cricket along the edge of the driveway. The wasp was not much bigger than the cricket, and the wasp struggled. At one point she let go, stepped back a few inches, stroked her head a few times (much like a human facing a big task), and eventually dragged it down a hole by the driveway garden. The cricket was still alive, but paralyzed.
I did not intervene.
The wasp will lay her eggs in the cricket, and they will hatch in the cricket, still alive, and the cricket will, of course, suffer.
I did not intervene.
I knew this. I did not intervene.
Leslie and I kayaked again today, which is what we do.
While drifting past the Harborview, a nice bar sitting on the Cape May harbor (which I guess you've already figured), I found a piling with several purple sea urchins on it. Why they picked this piling, I do not know. It's been a couple of years since I've seen purple sea urchins around.
A long, long time ago, when my hair was still black, a professor explained to me that I was to inject a sea urchin with a hormone, to induce the urchin to lay eggs. I did.
I was then instructed to split the dividing embryo, which I more or less did, but with much less enthusiasm.
I grew up with a microscope and an imagination. Splitting the developing embryo under the scope, willfully, in order to observe something that had a predictable outcome, knotted my stomach.
I knew nothing about the GI nervous system when I was 18, but I knew enough to trust it.
I quit the course.
I learned a lot about botany as a result.
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.
-J. Robert Oppenheimer..
Ken Allan is a blogger on the other side of the Earth. ( Kia ora e Ken.) He, like me, is no spring chicken, and he, like me, occasionally changes his mind on topics. He's quirky, bright, thoughtful, and well worth reading.
He sent me the this video:
Now, before I completely embarrass myself, let me state right out front that I am no Oppenheimer. Few of us are.
Still, back in 1977, a few people had enough faith in me that I got a lot of strangers' money to attend the University of Michigan. The biology department was rockin' then and may well be now, I don't know, I don't pay much attention to these things.
Still, I was a hotshot. Until the sea urchin. Looking at Oppenheimer in this video, I am glad that I got out of the hot edge of biochemstry. He made a mistake, and suffered because he realized that he made a mistake.
And now I teach science to (very) young adults. I have a responsibility to them, to the state, to myself.
Harry S. Truman called the bombing of Hiroshima "the greatest achievement of organized science." If that does not give you pause, you should not be teaching science.
You should not be teaching anything at all.