Sunday, 25 September 2011

I want to know

how they know about know those itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny thingies that are smaller than atoms?
We used to think atoms were small. I used to wonder how they had found out about atoms. How can you know about something if you cannot see it? It was one of those things I wanted to know about when I was a child.
Do not mistake me. I had no desire to be a white-coated scientist in a laboratory. I have never wanted to do that. When I was at school "nature science" (as we called it) was so badly taught I was bored by it. I never enjoyed it. I grew up liking nature but not wanting to know about it in the sort of intimate detail that scientists needs. I know things of course. I am lucky enough to know where to find more information when I need it. Someone showed me a shawl pin made out of a piece of dark reddish timber yesterday. She did not know what it was. My father still works with wood. I have seen many pieces of timber in my life. I looked at the timber. I felt the weight of it in proportion to the size. I thought it was jarrah. My father confirmed it. Now I know, I know that - or do I?
I suppose experience told me that but I could see the colour. I could feel it. I do not think they can see neutrinos or that neutrinos are a particular, if any, colour. So, how do they know?
Oh yes, I know about CERN. I know about the big tunnel. I know that it is all costing billions of dollars for a small group of humans to try and satisfy their (and perhaps our) curiosity. I know that it is supposed to have potential applications of all sorts. All that is fine - but how do they know?
Einstein thought he knew. He wrote "that equation" and for around one hundred years it has been accepted as being right. Without Einstein - or someone like him - there would be no CERN.
But how do they know they know now? Is that why they are being cautious?


widdershins said...

They don't know, and it's freaking them out of their little theoretical scientifical ivory towers.

... can you imagine spending your entire academic/scientific career believing that the earth is flat ... erm ... that nothing travels faster than the speed of sound ... erm ... the speed of light

... just what would happen to all their awards and prizes and, and, stuff, if those crazy science fiction writers were right!!!

It's evil of me I know to chuckle at their confustication, but really boys, lighten up!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff! We boys and our toys! Bob C-S

Frances said...

There was no "nature science" in my day. Just Wattle Day, Arbor Day and some day about the Gould league of Bird Lovers. Just an endorsement of values.
Apologies for my frozen site: now un iced.