My idea of a scientist is somebody whose reality of the universe is far more enhanced and vivid than my own. Because of their knowledge of its patterns, connections, and laws, I imagine them somewhat as wizards, able to shape its properties, seeing dimensions of meaning in the mundane.
"We think of details as daily and mundane. Even miracles are mundane happenings that an awakened mind can see in a fantastic way." -Natalie Goldberg
Scientific facts have to be explained to me in a very simple, childish manner. Einstein said never to lose a holy curiosity--but you know what Einstein? Once you begin talking in theorems and numbers, or ventricles and cardiac cycles, or xylems and phloems, you've lost me.
I am an idiot. Treat me as such.
The solar system was just a lot of round foam floating on toothpicks to me, until the day I sat to watch TV with a kid I was babysitting. The Magic School Bus was on, and in this particular episode, the class got lost in outer space. That's when it hit me: my God! So all those planets are just floating in this great enormous void, pirouetting around stars, like some co-ordinated ballet? No strings attached, no toothpicks?
We are part of something so big, it's immeasurable! We are lifetimes and light-years away from the other side of our cosmic neighbourhood! Good gravy!
Another concept I could never grasp fully: colours. I had the technical jargon memorized well enough to pass a high school test, but I couldn't appreciate it.
Well, some time ago, I came across a piece of writing by Kato Shigeaki, and he put it rather beautifully. (Kato is part of a boyband, but let's not get into that lest I come across as even less of an intellectual than I admit to being.)
For the benefit of others who have struggled with the idea, here is an excerpt:
"From here on, it gets a bit complicated, but it is said that the colors we see with our eyes are actually the result of things absorbing and reflecting light. The light which we see with our eyes is divided according to its wavelength into red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. For example, an apple appears red because it reflects the red light which has a long wavelength, while absorbing the other colors. In short, the colors we see with our eyes is actually the light which is being disliked and told, "I won't pick you up! Go away!" Somehow I think this is really interesting. The colors of things are made up of disliked light...We've come to take the colors for granted which make up the world around us. The light which is rejected by all objects is loved by us, it is changed into something necessary which we cannot live without ...
The blue that sky and sea dislike makes us feel incredibly calm. The sky in the middle of the night shows us a brilliant moon, by disliking black.
The light which I dislike, how does it paint me?"
Deep? Shallow? Either way, I 'get' it now.
For more of Kato's (translated) essays, and this one, visit http://community.livejournal.com/shigesuki/tag/essay
Beware, however, the fangirling--in epic proportions.