Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated

Illustration for article titled Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated

Today we celebrate the birthday of Rosalind Franklin, the unsung heroine who discovered DNA's double helical structure. To that end, we present the following quote, taken from a letter to Rosalind's father, wherein she weighs in on the perennial debate over science and its ability to either elevate or diminish our appreciation for and relationship with the natural world.

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You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation of life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience and experiment… In my view, all that is necessary for faith is the belief that by doing our best we shall come nearer to success and that success in our aims (the improvement of the lot of mankind, present and future) is worth attaining."

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More on Franklin and her legacy here.

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DISCUSSION

Thezombiemessia
Thezombiemessia

I love quotes like this. I find it so odd how people try to separate science from reality, or saying that it demystifies things or makes everything cold and sterile.

Another quote I like is (to throw out a cliche one) Feynman's Flowers:

I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…

I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.