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Chet Raymo's "Science Musings"





In his autobiography, the brilliant physicist John Archibald Wheeler makes this confession of faith: "Whatever can be, is." He goes further: "Whatever can be, must be." Anything not prohibited by the laws of nature, exists, he says.

    -- Chet Raymo




In moments of soul-stirring epiphany, it is reassuring to feel below our feet a floor of reliable knowledge, the safe and sure edifice of empirical learning so painstakingly constructed by the likes of Aristarchus, Galileo, Darwin and Schrödinger.

    But at the same time we are humbled by our ignorance, and more ready than ever to say "I don't know."

    Erwin Chargaff, who contributed mightily to our understanding of DNA, wrote:


"It is the sense of mystery that, in my opinion, drives the true scientist; the same blind force, blindly seeing, deafly hearing, unconsciously remembering, that drives the larva into the butterfly.

"If the scientist has not experienced, at least a few times in his life, this cold shudder down his spine, this confrontation with an immense invisible face whose breath moves him to tears, he is not a scientist."


        -- Chet Raymo