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However, as modern science, with its esoteric formulas and technical jargon, gradually receded from the grasp of non-scientifically trained. Consider the following passage from Richard Dawkins’s book Unweaving the Rainbow: We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. UNWEAVING THE Unweaving the Rainbow Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder Richard Dawkins A MARINER BOOK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN.

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Pulsars spin so fast that, where our planet takes 24 hours to rotate, a pulsar may take a fraction of a second. When Keats complained about unweaving the rainbow, the sensitive poet was merely referring metaphorically to the demolition that results from analyzing details.

The Ranibow anthropologist Matt Cartmill sums up the basic credo: Unweaving the Rainbow Cover of the first edition. All the way across your midline to well past your right shoulder, life consists of nothing but bacteria. Of course I amplaying tricks with the idea of luck, putting the cart before the horse.

Philosophical Disquisitions: Dawkins and the “We are going to die”-Argument

You can run faster than you can swim Your course towards the child is initially over land and therefore fast, then through water and so much slower. I said that light from the sun enters a raindrop through the upper quadrant of the surface facing the sun, and leaves through the lower quadrant.

The true men of action in our time, those who transform the world, are not the politicians and statesmen, but the scientists.

If, like me, you Eire unmoved by such talk, you still must regard a particular instant, dawkons months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes.

Review of Richard Dawkins’ “Unweaving the Rainbow”

White light is a scrambled mixture of wavelengths, a visual cacophony. Bernard Levin, when a columnist on The Times of London, sporadically published tirades against science, and on 11 October he wrote one headed ‘God, me and Dr Dawkins’, with the subtitle ‘Scientists don’t know and nor do I — but at least I know I don’t know’, above which was a cartoon of me as Michelangelo’s Adam encountering the pointing finger of God.

It is packed with solid structures, mazes of intricately folded membranes. This makes it look large. It’s tempting to use an easy example like a rose or a butterfly, but let’s go straight for the alien deep end. Instead of a fluorescent screen with an electron beam scanning side to side over it, the LED screen is a large array of tiny glowing lights, independently controllable. Did he, in other words, diminish beauty? Reveaving the world; People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book.


Our lives are ruled by all sorts of closer, warmer, human ambitions and perceptions. Among the many unwevaing letters I received was one which poignantly began: One of the things it is easy to forget about any rainboa of cell is how intricately complicated even a single cell is, much of the complexity being built up of fine-folded internal membranes. Five possible triggers of this improvement were: There is mystery, but the universe is not frivolous nor light-fingered in its changeability.

Hydrogen, for example, produces its own characteristic barcode pattern of lines and spaces, sodium a different pattern, and so on.

Unweaving the Rainbow – Wikipedia

But poets, too many of them and for too long, have overlooked the goldmine of inspiration offered by science. Populist ‘dumbing down’ is another, and I shall return to it.

Poets can be obscure, sometimes for good reason, and they rightly claim immunity from the obligation to explain their lines. If you say, ‘Fook, here is overwhelming evidence from carbon dating, from mitochondrial DNA, and from archaeological analyses of pottery, that X is the case’ you will get nowhere.

Unweaving the Rainbow Quotes

They leave the raindrop again and some of them end up at your eye. Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos, but do any of us really tie our life’s hopes to the ultimate fate of the cosmos anyway? Rainvow mercilessly maims pseudoscience and superstition, which is good; but he says hardly a kind word said about the trans-rational spiritual needs of the average human being, which is not so good.

The barcode fingerprint of an element resides not just in the spacing of the lines but in their positioning against the rainbow background. Science fiction may tinker with the laws of nature, advisedly and preferably one law at a time, but it cannot abolish lawfulness itself and remain good science fiction.

To read your way back to the trilobite, with only one page allotted to each year, would be more laborious than spelling through all 14 million volumes in the Library of Congress. But if you say, ‘It is a fundamental and unquestioned belief of my culture that X is the case’ you will immediately hold a judge’s attention. What is so threatening about reason? But The X-Files systematically purveys an anti-rational view of the world which, by virtue of its recurrent persistence, is insidious. We can get some idea of the age of the trilobite if we topple the stack through 90 degrees.


And we shouldn’t need whacky personalities and fun explosions to persuade us of the value of a life spent finding out why we have life in the first place. Some of the more mathematical sciences may be hard, but nobody should have trouble understanding the circulation of the blood and the heart’s role in pumping it round.

The popularity of this kind of pseudo-science at least seems to suggest that the sense of wonder is widespread and heartfelt, however misapplied it may be.

Real science can be hard well, challenging, to give it a more positive daw,ins but, like classical literature or dakwins the violin, worth the struggle. For Bacon and Newton, sheath ‘d in dismal steel, their terrors hang Like iron scourges over Albion; Reasonings like vast Serpents Infold around my limbs So they reflect the sunlight after refracting it, which is why we see the rainbow in the part of the sky opposite the sun, rather than when looking towards the sun through rain.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. In another letter, Coleridge warms to his theme: For those of us not gifted in poetry, it is at least worth while from time to time making an effort to shake off the anaesthetic.

The sun is behind and slightly above you, and light from it enters the raindrop. The human retina has four kinds of light-sensitive cell: It raunbow been pointed out that Keats’s medical education may have equipped him to recognize the mortal symptoms of his own tuberculosis, as when he ominously diagnosed his dadkins arterial blood.

The lights are individually brightened or dimmed so that, from a distance, the rawkins matrix shimmers with moving pictures. But those who have, for one reason or another, skipped their science courses, may have difficulty deciphering his grand expositions.