Sunday, September 7, 2014

In the Beginning: A Heart-Shaped Bic

Butte Fossil Museum this summer

Gwen (a cool girl) and I were carefully shielding each other from the teacher, taking turns with the Bunsen Burner and a ball-point pen.  Just as I achieved perfection with the heart shape I was working on, the 7th grade science teacher's overenthusiastic voice penetrated my concentration.

Inside Timpanogos Cave
I turned to see him bouncing around the room with a jar of yuck.
"Drink it!" one of the kids yelled.  
I pushed my glasses up my nose and tried to listen without seeming too interested.  If Gwen found out that I cared at all, the jig would be up, and I would be demoted back to nerd.  

I know now that I'd never really gotten out of that place, anyway. (Nerddom)  We were partners because the teacher had done the pairing.  Gwen was hoping that if she were friendly enough I would do all the work and that she would pass the class.  She was, I did, and she did.  
Gwen went on to forever coolness.  I stayed a nerd.  The end.

Except!  The sad little wannabee with the big 80's hair made a life-changing discovery:  she could methodically figure out EVERY ingredient in the sludge!  I got 100% on the final project.  It was the best class I'd EVER taken (to that point).  Science is AMAZING.Who knew?

My HS chemistry teacher looked like an alien with all the protective gear he was wearing.  He'd made a huge tub of bubbles, and was filling them with hydrogen and oxygen from two tanks.  When he fired up the lighter, we barely had time to hit the floor.  The blast shook the school.  "And that's how you make water.  Hydrogen, oxygen and energy." he calmly stated just before the fire alarm screeched.  "Huh.  I see that some of you made some water of your own.  Heh, heh."

I wasn't always emotionally mature enough for HS science--I had bashfully read a novel under my desk during the reproduction chapter in Biology.  The test question asked, "Describe the procedure for male sterilization."  My answer, which the teacher rudely X-ed with a bright red pen was, "Cut it off."
Well, I guess there are other ways, if you want to be all scientific-y about it.  

The poor man once walked right off a stage and broke his leg, during a 3 day weekend.  Luckily someone heard his cries for help as they were locking up.  His family would have never noticed or missed him.

BUT, he was incredibly gifted and brilliant.  One day as he spoke of the musical overtones of a note, and how each instrument and voice differ in sound because of the overtones they generate, he went off-subject again.  He started showing the harmonic intervals, and compared them to the planets in our solar system, and the waves in water, and their intervals--They are the same patterns! 
Math and science and consistency!  Oh, my!

In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 
"Francie came away from her first chemistry lecture in a glow.  In on hour she had found out that everything was made up of atoms which were in continual motion.  She grasped the idea that nothing was ever lost or destroyed.  Even if something was burned up or left to rot away, it did not disappear form the face of the earth; it changed into something else--gases, liquids, and powders.  Everything, decided Francie after that first lecture, was vibrant with life and there was no death in chemistry.  She was puzzled as to why learned people didn't adopt chemistry as a religion."


And yes again as I discovered rocks in Geology.  And again as I learned to teach Science to elementary children using bubbles to find wind patterns, corn starch and water (oobleck) to make a colloid, a bent hanger thrown randomly to study ecosystems and all that are contained therein.  Yes, yes, yes!

So, I'm a science geek.  But I'm a bigger reading freak.  

Once I escaped the structured learning University environment, got married and produced 8 lively children in 15 years, I found that I had a lot of time on my hands. (Snort.) What to do?

The answer of course, is GO HIKING!  (At least that is my husband's answer.)
Outside Timpanogos Cave
And visit museums! Maybe.

And watch Documentaries!  We're getting closer...


And have real-life experiences!  Bring it home, baby!
A is for ants, in an ant farm, broken in my kitchen.  And now little people are sobbing in the kitchen, 'cause Mommy just stomped on their NEW PETS.
Definitely NOT. 

Or, I could just buy some chocolate, visit the library, and then lock myself into the bathroom.  With a good book.
Which brings us to an addiction I have, and it's very real.  I escape into 2-3 books a week.  Novels, historical fiction, history, biography, self-help, IKEA catalogs and ANYTHING WRITTEN, for crying out loud.  Also, there is a lot of laundry in my world--the two things seem to be mutually exclusive.  Books or laundry, books or laundry?  If you can't guess the answer, visit my laundry room.

So when I discover a REALLY GOOD BOOK, and it also happens to be about SCIENCE, I start laughing and snorting and can barely contain my glee.

There are books about the stages of decaying corpses, about genetics and the periodic table, about women and their systems, about digestion.  There's a spectacular series of YA mysteries that feature chemistry in all its glory.  Some writers could write about ANYTHING and make it interesting!  Love those people.


One could study just one aspect of one thing in one branch of science continually and never even come close to knowing everything there is to know about it in one lifetime! 

Is anyone still reading, here?  'Cause I'm coming up to the POINT here in a second.  Hi, Mom.

The very best scientists are the ones who never lose their wonder and awe, and who stay open to ideas.  The scientific method only works when the scientist is willing to suspend all preconceived biases and accept the outcome.  
When enough data has been collected, and the best scientist sit down and agree upon a truth, it becomes the accepted theory, and it is incredibly difficult to refute it in the scientific community.  But, it ultimately is still a "little t truth", and if enough data is later compiled to refute it, a new "little t" truth will emerge as the standard.  The basic shape of the earth comes to mind as an example.  The most arrogant proponents of a flat earth are the ones who appear the most deluded to us now.
No, I haven't studied science every day my entire life.  But I have learned enough to know it is delicious!  Amazeballs!  And I love it so much, I want to share it.
Maybe you've seen the footage of a small child who has received a cochlear implant, and is hearing for the first time?  You could try to communicate what it's like to hear, but really, that child doesn't know until he/she experiences it firsthand.  

An overused idea  along these lines is one of the taste of salt.  How could you explain how it tastes, how it improves the foods it encounters?  How flat life is without it?  That it really is, even if one hasn't ever tasted it?

I've recently read a couple of very well-written books about science.  My beef with these books is that the author point-blank, arrogantly claimed that anyone who still believes in a Higher Power is a complete idiot.  One who believes that God organized the wonders of our world, created the intricacies and patterns that we continue to discover; or anyone that believes that life has a purpose and meaning is un-evolved and uninformed.  

But, I have studied God and His Son Jesus Christ.  Every day.  For as long as I can remember.  I've prayed, read, listened, obeyed.  I've planted the seed of faith, watched it grow, and tasted of the fruit of God's love.
I am not even entirely sure that I am real, but I KNOW that God is real.  (If my perceived life is just a holographic simulation, and you are all in on the plot, I just have to say that y'all have gone to a lot of work for lil' ole me.) 

I know God lives.  I know that we are His children, created in His image.  I know that He created this world (I don't know how.)  Most surely of all, I know that He loves us, that we have a purpose, and that we can chose to be more like Him.  This knowledge gives me happiness.  It directs my life.  It's everything to me.
So, when a brilliant scientist centers all of her/his ideas around this idea that there is no "Intelligent design," I don't roll my eyes and scoff.  I just calmly keep reading and learning.

I know that in the end everything will fit together and all the "little t truths" that are not "big T truths" will merely fall away. Every "Big T" truth will circle back to one big whole of TRUTH.

I can't wait for that to happen!  How cool will it be when we have all the answers?  And when it does, there will be no flagrant, "I told you so!"   There will just be awe, wonder, understanding.  Shazam! 

God's love is so profoundly beautiful, so peace-giving; the Savior's atonement is such a source of joy, that I only want EVERYONE to experience it.  It begs to be shared.  Heaven forbid that my arrogance or bad behavior should repel someone from the very thing that could change their life.
Just like I would be excited to share salt with anyone who's lived without it their entire life, I wish I could urge everyone to really study it out in their minds, experiment on the word, pray, truly open their hearts to know, and be prepared to act on the information received.  I'd love to give everyone a taste of the Holy Ghost.  Sweet.

Just as there are countless sources of scientific knowledge, there is also much available about God.  Written word, spoken word, personal resources--"Ask the Missionaries, they can help!"
What if you discovered that there is an entirely unused "sense" for you to experience?  Would you really want to remain deaf?

"If any man have ears to hear, let him hear!"  Mark 7:16

"He answered and thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."  John 9:25


Love.  Science is about LOVE.  Who knew?

Many of my images were erased as I tried to convert the blog into a book.  Sorry.