This is a reblogged post:
Trying to catch up I am wading through social media streams and notifications. I am delighted to discover a post that echoes EXACTLY what I feel / have once felt as a teenager and high school student who had just decided to become a physicist. In his reflections Carl Sagan’s Cosmos Samir Chopra said it better than I would have been able to do. Quote: “I react the way I do to “A Glorious Dawn” because when I watch it I am reminded of a kind of naiveté, one that infected a part of life with a very distinct sense of possibility; I am reminded indeed, of an older personality, an older way of looking at the world. You could call this simple nostalgia for childhood; I think you’d be partially right. This nostalgia has many components, of course. Then, science, its methods and its knowledge, seemed sacrosanct; its history the most glorious record of human achievement, rising above its sordid record in other domains. It seemed to document a long struggle against many forms of intellectual and political tyranny. Because I was a student of science then–if only in school–I felt myself tapping into a long and glorious tradition, becoming part of a distinguished stream of humans possessed of epistemic and moral rectitude. And because I felt myself to be have just barely begun my studies, I sensed a long, colorful, adventure–perhaps as dramatic as those that I had seen depicted in Cosmos‘ many episodes–lay ahead of me.”
To that count of nine million views I have made several dozen contributions. And cheesily enough, on each occasion, I have detected a swelling, a lump in my throat, and sometimes even, most embarrassingly, a slight moistening of the eyes. I am a grown man, supposedly well above such trite sentimentality. What gives?
Like many of those that write those glowing comments on YouTube, I too watched Cosmos as a youngster. I learned a great deal of astronomy and the history…
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“Then, science, its methods and its knowledge, seemed sacrosanct; its history the most glorious record of human achievement, rising above its sordid record in other domains. It seemed to document a long struggle against many forms of intellectual and political tyranny.”
Beautifully put. I try to hold on to this sentiment. Although it is now much clearer to me that scientists, even the great ones, are/were just as feeble and fallible as the rest of humanity, but they try harder :-)
I fully agree! What I like about Samir’s post (actually about many of his posts) that he describes his nostalgic feelings perfectly without stating explicitly that he still adheres to them today unconditionally :-).
I have read some biographies about these larger-than-life figures in science – and actually I am not sure if I would “liked” many of them really on a personal level. Also my expectations about the moral integrity and flawless character of the typical university professor were not exactly met at the university.
Elke, thanks for sharing this. Glad the post resonated with you!
Thanks for writing the post! :-)