Science and technology.

November 17th, 2010 | Posted by administratrix in Introspection

In which there’s a quote.

Do you know how to make a match from scratch?

Could you grind lenses for your glasses? Do you know how to make guns or bullets? How to refine ore, how to make aluminum? Could you build a battery? Do you know how to wire an electrical circuit?

How about penicillin, do you know how to make that? Or sulfa drugs, could you make those?

You could probably build a camera, but how about film? Could you make that?

I suspect that the vast majority of the quotes on the intarwebz are wrongly attributed, but I’ll repost this one with the hope that it’s not.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

– Carl Sagan

I used to be a self-professed “end-of-the-world book junkie.” I loved to read stuff like Lucifer’s Hammer and The Stand, books in which a catastrophic event occurred and a few survivors were left to cope with a changed world.

An image of a lone man, left behind, lovingly wrapping and sealing his collection of science volumes and storing them in a hardened shelter for future generations to find will remain with me forever. Imagine living on an earth worse than decimated by a dinosaur-killer, knowing that in a couple of generation humans would be illiterate?

I realized that if the world came to an end I’d be desperate to find someone who could grind corrective lenses; without access to such knowledge I’d probably die, too nearsighted to travel safely or even forage effectively. I’d be nearly crippled without lenses; imagine that!

When I read 1633 I realized that I’ve never lived in a world without sulfa drugs, and that I’m not really interested in ever having to do so. Not to mention pain killers! What if you had no access to morphine precursors? What if the only painkillers you could produce were lame, like whiskey or marijuana, and you suffered a compound fracture? Imagine that! Christ!

Science and technology. They’re way cool.

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2 Responses

  • 80 says:

    Science & technology are way cool. We’re buffs over at Chez Shaffer-Hart, but admittedly lacking in practical skills. Now I want to learn how to grind lenses or make matches.
    You’re more of a fiction gal, but for end of civilization stuff Collapse by Jared Diamond is pretty cool.

    On my Amazon wishlist now. Thanks! -m

  • shenry says:

    Oh man, you reminded me (again) of that Twilight Zone episode with the bespectacled banker (a magnificent Burgess Meredith) who survives a world war only to break his glasses. That’s sad.

    I know I’d be screwed in an end-of-the-world scenario. I’ve got no skillz for that.

    Broken glasses are a tragedy. -m

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