I just found a web site that has all of the back issues of a magazine I really enjoyed in graduate school. The Sciences is a magazine that looked (yes, past tense) at science from a cultural context. Unfortunately, the magazine went out of print in 2001. Over the three years I subscribed, I would devour each issue when it arrived. The art used in the articles helps shape the discussions. Some of the articles that I enjoyed as described below. (I may re-read these articles and find they say something totally different, but my mind’s eye remembers them this way)
Clock of Ages – One group wanted to build a clock that would keep time, as we know it, accurately for the next 10,000 years. The article asks if this is an act of arrogance or a rational thing to do to tie the future to our past. Do we need to anchor humans 10,000 years from now with hours, minutes, seconds? Is time something that must be unified through the ages for humans to relate to their scientific rational past?
Trial and Error – What does “reasonable doubt” mean? As a juror, do I have to be 99.9% convinced that the accused raped those two girls, or will 75% suffice? Is 51% sure ok to convict someone? This article through some interesting social experiments looks at studies that show that jurors are all over the map with their definition of “reasonable doubt”. One would hope that a jury would average themselves to a pretty high level of “reasonable doubt”, but how do you quantify high level?
The Wild, Wild Pest – In many parts of the world, domestic animals are coming into contact with wild animals and spreading domestic diseases. An example of this is canine distemper. In certain parts of Africa, dogs are spreading canine distemper to lions and other mammals. Since man introduced the domestic dogs into these eco systems, does man have an obligation to try to correct their problem and shoot the lions with antibiotics? This article is a great exploration of the question are humans part of nature or do we exist outside of nature and have a responsibility to correct and maintain nature.
The Sun in the Church – Many cathedrals were with measurement technologies that could track the sun and stars very precisely. Early modern astronomers made cathedrals into solar observatories and thereby disproved the very geocentric dogma they were supposed to uphold.
Script Doctors – How much of the negative stereotype that scientist, engineers, and physicist have in our culture is do to the “nerdyness” that Hollywood and other media outlets use to portray us. Or, are we really that nerdy? It’s the question of life imitating art, or art capturing life. (I will have a lot more to say about this in a future post about the negative stereotypes of the name Larry – the most abused name in all entertainment)
What I really liked about the articles in The Sciences are the questions the articles generated. They never editorialized and pushed a particular interpretation of science in culture. They helped me to question the ethics and cultural outcomes of different scientific discoveries. (I really miss this magazine).
This leads me to another article in a different publication that I read recently that help re-enforce why, as a Christian, I should care about science. The article published by Fermi is titled The Next Thousand Years of Christianity by Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine. This article has many interesting points about being forward looking in our faith organizations (as opposed to always focusing on the rapture that is always coming tomorrow). One of the points that really stuck with me is that we need Christians involved with everything science, medicine, arts, teaching, politics, engineering, entertainment … because if people of faith are not there to interpret new results and new veins of thought, then the secular and scientific world, by default, will interpret and scope the future for us. A faith that does not participate in the discussions of science and arts is one that will quickly fade into irrelevancy.
I hope you all love doing what you are doing and feel that you are ministering everyday by living your faith in your field of excellence!