Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An age of every day marvels

Economist Arnold Kling recently posted on the issue of "scientific stagnation", and whether we were in a period of it. Now, without getting into the arguments about string theory, and whether it is a dead-end (there is more to science than physics), I offer the following excellent paragraphs from the above post:
... we tend to under-estimate the achievements of computer technology because they become so widely available so quickly. Going to the moon seems amazing, because almost nobody participated in that. Using Google Maps seems pedestrian, because all your friends can do it.
One could argue that the social payoff from space travel just hasn't been there. The trip to the moon was not epoch-making because the moon had very little going for it. If Christopher Columbus had discovered a continent with the ecology of the moon, that discovery would not have been an epoch-making event.
On the latter point, one commenter on the post noted:
Anyone know who Captain John Davis was?
No? He was the captain of the expedition that was the first in recorded history to set foot on Antarctica. I'd say no epochs were made, pretty much proving the professor's point.
We live in an age of every-day marvels. Perhaps we should appreciate that more.

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