Friday, February 26, 2010

Why I Do Science

"There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality." - Richard Dawkins

To me, science is indeed poetry.

Grace, beauty, and harmony, the characteristics that define poetry outside of literature, abound in nature.

For a scientist, as for a child, the world is a puzzle to be fit together, and the beauty of that lies in the ways these complex four-dimensional pieces join.

It shows in physics -
Atoms are made up of protons and neutrons, and if you can characterize those, you can attempt to decipher the behaviors of these tiny particles, despite having no way to sense them directly.

It shows in chemistry -
In high school, you learn that certain chemicals react. As you delve deeper and deeper, you begin to see how the orbital distribution of electrons not only affects but effects those interactions.

It shows in biology -
Enzymatic interactions require not a simple lock-and-key fit, but rather, a spatial positioning that can become a lock-and-key fit, which helps to drive the reaction. Cells and organisms have complex feedback pathways for regulation that work based on the activities of these enzymes.

It shows in the way those fields fit together, in how you find chemical reactions happening because of physical properties, and biological reactions happening because of chemical properties, and psychological reactions happening because of biological properties.

Could there be anything more beautiful?

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