Thursday, February 03, 2005

Universal thoughts

I've recently been attending the Dana Centre's science lectures/debates/Q&A sessions/dinners and I have to say that for the most part I'm impressed by the caliber of speakers they attract and the evident intelligence of the audience by the questions (and often challenges) posed.

So when the Dana Centre - "...a collaboration between the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science), the European Dana Alliance for the Brain and the Science Museum."

...introduces an event with:

"The human brain is the most complex structure in the universe."

You've really got to wonder why they let marketing people out of their feng-shui cubbyholes to write anything on the site and publicly make asses of themselves and the Centre. Surely no-one with any scientific training wrote this.

The. Most. Complex. Structure. In. The. Universe.

Presupposing:

* That we know of every structure, every -thing- in the universe. ( A universe, by the way, that we currently don't even have a very good idea of the size and shape of)
* That we have a classification system that can encompass all the elements of all the things in the universe and come up with a single, absolute answer.

How arrogant. How embarrassing.

Science, to my mind anyway, has always been more about the process of questioning than of answering. Answers seem to be the byproduct of active, vigorous, unrepentant and fearless questioning. It's in the field of asking 'What if?' and 'Why?' that science excels.

So any scientist that can comprehensively say that we know it all and - frankly - the most complex thing out there - in a universe we already know is filled with fascinating things like mysterious dark matter, wandering black holes, billowing dust clouds where suns are 'born', twin stars where one 'feeds' off the other in a slow and beautiful dance of death, planets with such extreme conditions that it's difficult for the human mind to -grasp- the terrain - is the squishy stuff in our skulls...worries me. Does it mean that he's satisfied to stop questioning?

Sure, the brain is amazing and complex and a minor miracle considering the fact that humans use the organ in such a unique capacity (look at our cities, community structures, interrelationships, art, science) compared to the other creatures on this planet. But really - THE most complex thing in the UNIVERSE?

Sorry, even -I- can make the judgement call here and say 'Not bloody likely'.

Or at least I hope it's not. How sad it would be to reach out to the stars and come to the conclusion - umpteen generations from now - that there was nothing more interesting, fascinating or complex out there than one of our internal organs.

M

Please only use comment system below

|

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com