Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific – and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise–
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
- Keats on reading Chapman's Homer
Friday, 11 July 2008
Table conversation this evening: Asha asks at one point. "Who discovered poison? And how did they find out?"
Short exploration of the basics of science: cause and effect. Doing and observing. Seeing the relationships between things.
We had earlier prayed for Japan, N. Korea, Sri Lanka and Mongolia. Had talked about Columbus trying to find India and bumping into the 'New World' instead. Remembered the image that Keats has of the Spanish explorer (or conqueror) who looked out on the Pacific for the first time:
That amazing vehicle of wonder - when we first see something that we have never seen before. I remember the first time a person with HIV who loved Jesus stood up in public and spoke. I was stunned and still have the scene frozen in my memory. Likewise, the first time I saw the internet - a crude programme called 'PINE' that was up and running at Yale in late 1992. I can still taste the awesome swoop of joy that came when I had my thesis together for Public Health - and knew that I had been blessed to see something new.
Our late S. Chandrasekhar - in his book Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivations in Science (which Stefan let me read eons ago) explores a fundamental fact: the simpler a theorem is - the more compact and parsinimous it fits - the 'truer' it is. Looking for beauty brings you to truth. Chandrasekhar was a nobel laureate (physics 1983) and went on to say that when he had the experience of coming up with a new mathematical theorem or proof - that it was like discovering a new country, like seeing a landscape that no one had ever seen before.
Once again we see finger-prints of the Divine. Would that we would open our eyes a bit more.