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The Sciences

License to wonder

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitNovember 10, 2009 12:00 AM

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Speaking of Sagan... BABlogee Rob Rollins sent me this link to a great essay by evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson. It's about science, how it's done, and the sense of wonder it evokes.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a set of facts and use them to imagine how the world might work. In writing about some of these ideas, my aim is not to be correct — how can I be, when the answer isn’t known? — but to be thought-provoking, to ask questions, to make people wonder.

Speculation is a difficult thing to master, and far more difficult to control: when does speculation tread into the territory of nonsense, or jump too far in its suppositions? Yet without it, science is on a treadmill, going nowhere. Happily, science does go somewhere. It goes everywhere! And best yet? It takes you with it.

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