Lynn Yarris

From the infinite expanse of the universe to the infinitesimal confines of quarks, the magnificent truth of nature is that it is indifferent to the opinions of humankind. Nature does not care if you believe in global climate change, gravity, evolution or entropy. If humans dump a trillion extra tons of carbon into the air the atmosphere will warm. What goes up on this planet will come down. Living organisms will adapt or perish, and if you are born you will one day die. Of nature we can truly say: It is what it is.

It is the utter indifference of nature to our beliefs that compelled humans to invent science (I include math under this rubric) as the tool by which we could study and attempt to understand the rules of nature’s game. To win at any game you must play within the rules. Unfortunately, many of us made little attempt to learn the rules during our school years. Science was and remains the subject no one wants to take because it is hard, grading is tough, and nobody cool majors in it. Now you’re hearing about superstorms and pandemics, synthetic biology and nanotechnology, qubits, dark energy, the Big Bang and the Higgs boson and you’re wondering WTH (WTF if you live on the coasts).

All of us need at least a small measure of scientific literacy because nature is proceeding with its game despite our beliefs and ideologies. And if there is one truly universal axiom it is this: You can’t win if you don’t play.