”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.” Douglas Adams

20131105-212718.jpgTIm Minchin is a leading composer, lyricist, actor, writer and comedian. He is ‘spectacularly’ not a Nobel laureate, yet has been chosen to write the forward to the collection of ‘The Best Australian Science Writing 2013’.

He rejects the view that there is a conflict between art and science.

“I’ve only been to Portland once, but it’s a great city – its population a paragon of liberalism and artiness, sporting more tattoos than you could point a regretful laser at, and boasting perhaps a higher collective dye-to-hair ratio than anywhere on earth. Great music, great art, wonderful coffee … it’s my kind of town. Except, the residents recently voted – for the fourth time since the 1950s – against adding fluoride to the water supply. It’s as if a mermaid on one’s lower back is an impediment to sensible interpretation of data, or perhaps unkempt pink hair acts as a sort of dream catcher for conspiracy theories.”

“This apparent inverse correlation between artistic interest and scientific literacy seems to play out all over the world. Go to Byron Bay and you’ll find more painters and musos per capita than anywhere in the country, and – inevitably – a parallel glut of aura readers, homeopaths and anti-vaccination campaigners. There’s clearly no such thing as a free lunch: you want to listen to good blues, you have to have your palm read – and maybe get measles in the process.”

“Great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world.

If the entire volume is as good as the foreword, it will be a great read.

What I Learnt On 5th November in other years

5th November 2011 The Language of LoveThe Language of Love
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Flight Attendant: Sir, I’m going to have to ask that you turn off your cellular phone.
Toby Ziegler: We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle Series L-1011. Came off the line twenty months ago. Carries a Sim-5 transponder tracking system. And you’re telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?
—- 1.01: The Pilot.

Hooray! At last!

No longer do we risk bringing down a $300 million A380 and it’s 800 passengers by listening to Jack Johnson during take off.
It’s Soduku all the way to the terminal.

In a press release today the US FAA announced that it is safe to use our iPods, iPhones and iPads (or all at once) at all times during a flight. Currently, airlines insist that electronic devices are all turned off until 20 minutes after take off and for what seems like an eternity before landing. We can now reveal that this has always been a strategy to force us into reading their inflight magazines.

I accept the airlines’ apologies.

WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

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