Orchid is a fine place. It’s a fine place to get "how do I solder?"
answered, but once in a while it needs a curve ball ;<} As always,
I’m starting this hoping to get a ball rolling, not to spout ideas.
My father was a physicist/engineer with the manned space travel
program, beginning with the V-2s brought over from Germany, then on
Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. My mother was fond of telling the story
of my two year old sister smashing the Von Braun’s eggs, across the
courtyard where they lived. I had a working knowledge of Newton’s
laws of motion by age 8, had a grasp of the laws of thermodynamics
at 12. Robert Goddard was my hero, later it was Lavoisier.
Now, my older brother and his wife are practical chemists, my
brother in law is a physicist at JPL, and my nephew is quite an
illustrious physicist at a national lab - a frequent visitor at
Fermilab and CERN. Some of his work has bearing on the search for
Higgs’ boson. My niece is head of a critical scientific support
system, also at a national lab. This is hopefully a snapshot of our
life here - not just science, but Big Science is an integral part of
our lives, and always has been.
None of which makes me a scientist, but I realize most people didn’t
take Sunday jaunts to the lab with dad to do inert gas pressure
testing on a lunar module, either.
So… It’s obvious that science has much bearing on life on earth,
but to me the more pertinent discussion here is what bearing it has
on art, artists and specifically metalsmiths. And to narrow it even
further, I don’t think the fact that we have plastics is especially
earthshaking - the question is more one of, "What does it all mean?"
How many people here actually know what is happening when you etch
metal - ion exchange, etc. Even more importantly, when does science
get in the way of art, and what does Big Science mean for us all,
though we don’t see it every day? This thread actually comes from
the “semiprecious stones” thread - somebody came in today and talked
about a customer “removing the beauty” of a ruby by dwelling on the
technical. Does the fact that you know the cellular structrure of a
leaf mean that it’s more real, or more beautiful to you than to
someone who can’t read or write?
Science - specifically physics and astrophysics - has in recent
times come full circle. There was a time when religion and science
were diametrically opposed. Religion long ago ceased to care much,
but lately scientists have been speaking more and more in terms of a
model that more resembles the best of religion than they ever
thought - creation, oneness, perhaps even an overarching
intellegence. That’s not to say that they are “converts”, just that
much of science has found itself to be on the same path - one of
discovery and ultimately self-discovery for the one and also the
human race as a whole.
I’m not posting this to answer the questions, but to ask them. I
will say one thing, though, and that is that science does matter,
more than most people think about. Quarks are a curious word to most
people, they mean something to a few. The most likely practical use
we’ll get from them will be integrated circuits, nanotechnology -
who knows what else? Certainly they’re not going to make for a
better toaster. More importantly, they have, and will continue to,
further mankind’s quest for the keys of the universe. Every building
block from every part of life - art, science, ecology, economy -
makes us bigger, stronger and wiser even if we don’t know it at the
How many of you pour the yellow chemical into the red chemical, and
how many of you go out and find out what they are and what they are
doing (or already know)? How many care about the quest for planets,
or the quest for the Higgs boson, or whether string theory actually
is the harmonic vibration of the universe, and what does that mean?