Saturday, May 26, 2012

HIGH MODERNITY's technology versus its science...

    By 1900, as Vaclav Smil reminds us ,most of the technology (machines, 'things' in David Edgerton's sense of that word) around us today had been invented and was in active use: as well as being further commercially developed and technically improved.
   They are still in use, still under constant commercial development and steady technological improvement.
   They are the fruits of the generation of The Children of High Modernity.

   While those children and their children were excited by the technology of High Modernity, my generation, the grandchildren of those Children of High Modernity, tend to ignore them and take them as commonplace.
    But what does excite us, at least the science-minded among my generation, is the science of High Modernity.
   A bit late - yes - about 100 years late, but better late than never.
   And remember, if we grandchildren ignore the technology of High Modernity, it can be equally charged that The Children of High Modernity and their kids, ignored the science of that era.
   Quantum physics and all its implications, bacterial Horizontal Gene Transfer and all its implications --- the most ground-breaking science of that era, was nominally published in the scientific literature and then studiously ignored in popular/applied science.
   Only now, in the post-High Modernity Era, The Era of Global Commensality, are we giving them their due.
   Well some Children of High Modernity did give them their due - their full due - in their scientific and in their social dimensions.
   I am writing an account of one such exception to the rule : Dr Martin Henry Dawson.
   Less curious about what he did - though he certainly changed our whole world for the better, forever - than seeking to find out why he did it.
   Why ever did this archetype of The Meek decide to take on the whole world - and then, unexpectedly, win?

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