18 July 2004
In each moment, we can regard our world as ordinary,
sane and orderly.
We can fulfill the expectations of our community as engaged and responsible citizens.
...or we can embrace reality.
- Josh Mitteldorf
17 July 2004|
During the early 1970's when I lived in Berkeley, I used to see billboards around the Bay Area
with an inscription that I regarded at first as empty and banal to the point of self-parody.
But sometimes, when I approached the message in the proper frame of mind, I could imagine
it as the distilled essence of profundity from a fully realized being:
"Don't worry – be happy."
– Meher Baba
16 July 2004
As I copy these quotes, I realize that their meaning for me derives
as much from their source as from their content. Why is this? I am not
a person who takes my beliefs from the weight of established
But for me, Science has played the role of the ultimate grown-up,
pricking my bubbles, reminding me not to succumb to superstition or
wishful thinking. I can no longer embrace the mystical except as
Science grants me His permission.
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science."
"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is
"People do not grow old no matter how long we live. We never
cease to stand like curious children before the great Mystery into
which we were born."
- Albert Einstein
15 July 2004
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for
children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
14 July 2004
In the wake of the French Revolution, a working-class playwright
had a clear vision of its historical meaning for human liberation, and
a premonition of women's equality yet to come.
"Woman, wake up! The powerful empire of nature is no longer
surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies...Enslaved
man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break
his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his
companion... Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your
power to free yourselves; you have only to want to."
– from Declaration of the Rights of
Women, Olympe de
13 July 2004
"And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of the sea-birds on the coast.
So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart."
12 July 2004
As a young grad student in 1966, Lynn
Margulis figured out where mitochondria came from. What was know
was that mitochondria are "organelles", thousands of tiny
globules inside every plant and animal cell that convert energy
for the cell’s use. What Margulis figured out was that
mitochondria had once been infectious bacteria, invading their host
cells as a disease organism. Over evolutionary time, enemies had
become friends, parasites had become endosymbionts -
co-operating entities on the inside.
The first fifteen journals rejected Margulis’s article. She
persisted in the face of her colleagues’ scorn because she knew
her hypothesis was correct. Her hypothesis about mitochondria is
taught in textbooks today as if it were received wisdom of the ages,
the one and only obvious way to interpret the existence and origin
"She had a way of looking at symbiosis which
didn't fit into the popular theories and structure. In the
minds of many people, she went around the powers that be and
took her theories directly to the public, which annoyed them
all. It particularly annoyed them because she turned out to be
right. If it's a sin to take your theories to the public, then
it is a double sin to take your theories to the public and be
- Danny Hillis