One of my dirty little secrets is that I listen to audiobooks from audible.com (My commute from suburban Detroit to Ann Arbor keeps me in my car about two hours a day). This morning, I "read" (OK, had read to me), Richard Feynman's "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out." ( )
I'm a caffeine addict, but Feynman's words had, as the nanofather himself would say, a "kick" all its own. Here are a couple of quotes that stayed inside my brain:
"It is not necessary to understand the way birds flap their wings
and how the feathers are designed in order to make a flying machine. It
is not necessary to understand the lever system in the legs of a
cheetah — an animal that runs fast — in order to make an automobile
with wheels that goes very fast. It is therefore not necessary to
imitate the behavior of Nature in detail in order to engineer a device
which can in many respects surpass nature's abilities."
"The work that I do is a little more basic than that in the sense
that I'm looking at trying to make materials and devices in terms of
sensors and actuators that incorporate the same sort of molecular,
biological complexity and structures that enable these to behave almost
exactly like a living system. So, it's a little bit different. I'm at a
smaller scale. So, I'm looking at making membranes that convert energy
from one form to another, or filter chemicals or pump molecules just
like a living membrane would do."
And speaking of the news, let me leave you with one more Feynman quote from the book I've been listening to:
"To decide upon the answer is not scientific. In order to make
progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar. Ajar only. We
are only at the beginning of the development of the human race, of the
development of the human mind, of intelligent life. We have years and
years in the future.
It's our responsibility not to give the answer today as to what it is all about, to drive everybody down in that direction and to say, 'This is the solution to it all,' because we will be chained, then, to the limits of our present imagination. We will only be able to do those things that we think today are the things to do. Whereas, if we leave always some room for doubt, some room for discussion and proceed in a way analogous to the sciences, then this difficulty will not arise.
I believe, therefore, that although it is not the case today, that there may someday come a time, I should hope, when it will be fully appreciated that the power of government should be limited, that governments ought not to be empowered to decide the validity of scientific theories, that this is a ridiculous thing for them to try to do, that they are not to decide the various descriptions of history or of economic theory or of philosophy. Only in this way can the real possibilities of the future human race be ultimately developed."