Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do you listen to pop music because you're sad, or are you sad because you listen to pop music?

Oh, gentle readers. It's a typical Wednesday morning at 3AM. Where are I? At lab doing some biochemistry and listening to Kylie Minogue.

In 2002, her Fever album had just come out and I was taking Munich by storm with Alan. Memories of dancing in kunstpark ost to silly pop music. When will I see you again, sweet Munich?

I have always felt a strong affinity for southern Germany. The art, the music, the landscape, the history, the people. Is it the weltschmerz?

Today I got to have lunch with Susan Lindquist, MIT prof and the former director of the Whitehead institute. As we say "BFD": big fucking deal. Nothing codifies and distills my purpose like meeting a luminary. Arguably one of the most successful scientists I've met (and at Stanford I've met many successful scientists), Lindquist's candor and approachability was surprising.

One of the topics we discussed at length was the state of scientific education in America. Why do half of all American's not believe in evolution? A lion's share of the blame can be placed on the ivory tower and its inability or unwillingness to communicate with the general public. The rest of the blame can be placed on class room teachers who read from textbooks. There are few if any experimentalists who teach; most instructors regurgitate minutia into the gaping mouths of the baby bird student/automatons. No wonder why our country thinks science is inaccessible and boring.

But why didn't I learn about evolution until I was a junior in college? "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This is disturbingly true. I've always thought that biology answers the what, where, and when, and how, but evolution answers the why. And that's usually more interesting.

3 comments:

craiger said...

It's always the weltschmerz...

Ed Grow said...

Craiger-

Like Brahms leaving Berlin for Vienna, I have shed most of my SAD because of sunny CA. Love.

Sarah Wilson said...

hahaha. What a class. I don't even remember that German prof's name anymore...