Sunday, November 1, 2009

Botany lead to some of Einstein's ideas...The Value of Pure Science.

I like Einstein. He lets me encourage those with difficulty reading (Science Literacy), in addition to all his other accomplishments. Also, Einstein, as do other scientists, rests on the shoulders of scientists before him.

Pure science is important to advancing our knowledge and therefore to great strides in civilization. In a poor economy, we sometimes forget that. Often, people become about survival, about money now. Let's get back to Einstein.

A quote, with the emphasis placed by me, showing how botany played a role in Einstein's work follows :

In his doctoral dissertation, submitted to the University of Zurich in 1905, Einstein developed a statistical molecular theory of liquids. Then, in a separate paper, he applied the molecular theory of heat to liquids in obtaining an explanation of what had been, unknown to Einstein, a decades-old puzzle. Observing microscopic bits of plant pollen suspended in still water, English botanist Robert Brown had noticed in 1828 that even tinier particles mixed in with the pollen exhibited an incessant, irregular "swarming" motion — since called "Brownian motion." Although atoms and molecules were still open to objection in 1905, Einstein predicted that the random motions of molecules in a liquid impacting on larger suspended particles would result in irregular, random motions of the particles, which could be directly observed under a microscope. The predicted motion corresponded precisely with the puzzling Brownian motion! From this motion Einstein accurately determined the dimensions of the hypothetical molecules.3
Source Accessed November 1, 2009.

We can remind ourselves, then, that studying a basic science, like botany---which links nature, chemistry, ecology, environmental studies, physics, agriculture, horticulture, and medicine---studying basic science leads to important advances, like Einstein's, and basic science should not be dropped when the economy is bad.

Ask, why have medical schools stopped requiring botany just as herbal medicine is gaining popularity? Why are we dropping the basic science? Why don't politicians know more about the environment and the plants and other organisms in it? Do they need more basic science? Does your town have a botanist to contribute to their environmental impact studies...or do they study only things like traffic... (also important, mind you...but, don't leave the environment, including plants, out of the environmental impact study). Formulate your own opinion on including more basic science in your curricula. Act on your ideas.

(c) J S Shipman 2009
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