Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alternative Science

The wordsmith in me cannot get beyond the apparent oxymoron of a "Quantum Leap". Leap connotes a major effort or expenditure of energy, not necessarily with legs flying. I think of leap years, salmon leaping over waterfalls, leaping to conclusions, growing by leaps and bounds, taking a leap of faith/in the dark.

On the other hand, I am very comfortable with "A Quantum of Solace". That is nice understatement, given that a quantum is a very small portion (quantity or amount) of something.

Last week, I visited the Ontario Science Centre, and my bedtime reading was the September 2009 issue of Discover Magazine. In the former, what piqued my alien-romance-writing interest was the exhibition about truth, perception, and science. There was a great deal of thought-provoking material about alienation, and also about "bad" science.

In the latter, there is an in-depth interview with Roger Penrose, which touches upon the "fundamental failings of quantum theory". One absolute grabber of a headline is "When you accept the weirdness of quantum mechanics, you have to give up the idea of space-time as we know it from Einstein..."


Back to the exhibit sprawling through Hall D in the bowels of the Ontario Science Centre where I could also test my potential as a spy --and I did-- and discover what my IQ would be if a Hip-Hopper were in charge of testing. There was a small wave machine. Apparently, South Sea islanders can tell where unseen islands are by recognizing patterns in waves. Apparently (also) South Sea Islanders sailing from one island to another believe that the stars are fixed, and their boats are fixed, and the islands move.

The exhibit asks the question, "If the science works well for the limited purpose for which it was developed, who are we to say that it is wrong?"

Another fascinating question was, "Does our Sun move?" It must, of course, if our entire galaxy rotates around a black hole. Yet, if it does, why does Orion's Belt look much the same to us today as it did to the Pharaohs? And why is Deneb still at the back end of Cygnus?

Meanwhile, a disturbing news item that might make many of us question what we think we know is It reminds me of novels I've read by Jeffrey Archer, and by Dan Brown!

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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