Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Saint of Memory

Do you know how a mineral found on the shores of the Mesopotamian, a light used to illuminate pre-lightbulb stages, and an elderly widow all contributed to the building of the Atomic Bomb? Well most people don't but James Burke sees these connections. Indeed is shows were called Connections (1,2, and 3) as well as the Day the Universe Changed, and several others. He is something so very very rare these days. A Science Historian. Someone who though not a scientist per say, is indeed essential to the scientific process. As Oppenheimer stated so clearly. We stand on the shoulders of giants. Yet how can we do this if we do not remember who has done what and when and how they did it.

James Burke does this, and it is through his efforts to educate others about what has already been explored that new explorers in the worlds of science can step forward onto new ground. Though James Burke is fairly well known, at least in geek circles, others of his kind are less so. Yet they are the ones that report the news, ensure history is recorded. If it were not for them we might be doomed to discover the same technology over and over, forgetting what had already been done. It would not be new. The secret of steel was lost and rediscovered several times on the African continent and in the end when white men finally arrived in droves the secret was lost and their primitive weapons were no match for those from the north.

Those that do not remember history are doomed to repeat it, that goes double for science, and it is thanks to the Saints of Memory, and their figurative leader, James Burke that we can remember what we have done and do things better.

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