Wednesday, May 07, 2003

The Secret of Life

A physics prof of my acquaintance told me that students complain to him that Maxwell’s equations are unreasonably complicated and ought to be simplified. I can sympathize with the students: the nature of things menaces my self-esteem, too. On the other hand, is curiosity sincere if it demands not merely an answer but a certain kind of answer? Is it even really curiosity? In certain coffee bars you can still find people debating the secret of life when they could perfectly well pick up a copy of Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, and Walter’s Molecular Biology of the Cell (4th edition) and learn rather a lot about the secret or secrets of life, though it has to be admitted that the book does read a lot like a 1463 page refrigerator repair manual. C’est la Vie.

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