Brainy Quote of the Day

Saturday, March 15, 2014


This is Women's History Month. As a blog that promotes diversity in the sciences, I'm well aware of it. However, I received my midterm exam from Stevens University on the 28th of February. Solid State Electronics II is no less the challenge than Part I was admittedly. I had two weeks to solve, thus my time was fairly focused. I turned in my test at the deadline. I can for a moment breath on this Ides of March.

Hypatia (pronounced "hi-pay-see-a"): I read her name in the book Cosmos that I downloaded to my Kindle. I looked at the "old school" Cosmos show where Carl Sagan mentions her (starts at 3:25), and her sad fate. She's described as mathematician, astronomer, physicist, philosopher, quite lovely apparently and driver of her own chariot! She was a beloved teacher and by social practice a celibate, no doubt frustrating potential suitors of her day.

Interestingly as I predicted to some casually offline, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey has already had its detractors of the "young Earth"/humans with dinosaurs/faux debate between Evolution and so-called Intelligent Design variety. The odd and breathtaking display of hypocrisy in most of the trolls taking to the Internet - notably in 140 misspelled characters or less - created by the very science and modern physics they rail against; supporting pseudoscience in their destructive wake.

A certain part of the reptilian portion of our minds attacks instinctively that which we think challenges our belief systems - and thus us. Time and again, we've seen the razing of cities, the flaying of martyrs, the murder of not only the person, but new ideas that would take the species forward. This of course, all for adherence to a dogma. Supposedly through evangelism, it is meant as a "sell," and thus adherence is voluntary - zealotry and fanaticism turns it involuntary; totalitarian. Authoritarianism becomes our governance and its dogmatic ruling class the thought police. Sadly, I can't help but think if part of the mob that set upon Hypatia and ended her life so tragically were peopled by members of her own gender, suffering from what would in the 20th century gain the name "Stockholm Syndrome."

I often fear intolerance will rear its ugly head again and plunge us all over the abyss with it, as it did Alexandria, Egypt. They executed Hypatia...for the "crime" of thinking critically and independently of the lordship of patriarchal society. The saying goes "teach a woman  and you teach a generation." The library, like Hypatia, soon expired after her forced passing.

For these and other reasons, I will support Dr. Tyson and the relaunch of Cosmos. As Dr. Sagan states above, we "must not let it happen again."

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, known as George Santayana

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