Science, the knowledge of the natural world, does not hold the key. Men once hoped that it did and that, all else having failed, the key of science would turn the lock and admit mankind into the palace of peace and learning. But that, alas, was only an illusion. Science blesses with one hand and smites with the other; it leads mankind up to its Ebal and Gerizim, the Mount of Cursing and the Mount of Blessing. Today the world waits and trembles to see what new terrors science will unloose in war.
When Mary Shelley, the poet's second wife, was in Switzerland with Shelley and Byron in 1816, a proposal was made that members of their party should write a tale dealing with the supernatural. The result was Mrs. Shelley's famous tale, Frankenstein. Frankenstein was a young Swiss student of chemistry at Ingolstadt. In his laboratory experiments he became engrossed in the subject of life and death. What is physical life? And whence does its principle proceed? And what is death? And how does it work against life? In the pursuit of this subject he conceived the idea of creating life and producing an adult man. At length he became convinced that he was capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter. Day and night he toiled in his laboratory or haunted the charnel houses and the vaults and mortuaries, where he observed the gruesome inroads of death upon the human system.
Finally, one fateful day, he saw the body which he had constructed open its eyes and become a living creature. But immediately, now that he had achieved his purpose, he was filled with disgust and loathing for the monster he had created; and he fled from him in terror. Henceforth the creature haunted and pursued the creator, and took revenge on him by murdering his brother, his dearest friend, and his bride on their marriage night.
So man's genius and research, his mastery of the physical laws of the universe, have created a monster which today has turned upon its creator. Never can I look upon one of those huge, monstrous tanks of the modern battlefield, and see man, made in the image of God, lying dead and broken alongside of it, without flunking of the pathos and tragedy of it. Man was never made to be pursued by, to face or meet in combat, such a monster. And yet that monster is the creature of his own hands.
There certainly is nothing in the future of learning or science which promises to disarm man's last enemy, which is death, and make him
Forego the scent which for six thousand years,
Like a good hound he has followed.—Author unknown
In Campbell's "Last Man," the survivor of a dying world expresses this idea of the inability of nature, progress, and science to heal the deepest wounds or quench the deepest thirst of man:
Thou dim, discrowned king of day;
For all those trophied arts,
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang,
Healed not a passion or a pang
Entailed on human hearts.—Thomas Campbell
We know something should be done about our science education when a small son confuses quicksilver with a fast buck.—Bert Kruse, Quote
In the lab school at the University of Illinois a very bright eleven-year-old junior high pupil asked for the key to the physics lab.
"It can't be!" thought the principal, "an eleven-year-old wanting to work in the physics lab."
"Why," asked the principal, "do you want in?"
"I left my yo-yo in there."—David Jackson, Principal University High School, University of Illinois
"Now," said the teacher, "give me a definition of space."
Junior stood up, flustered and red. "Space," he began, "is where there is nothing I can't explain it exactly, but I have it in my head all right."—American Mercury
Teacher: "When water becomes ice, what is the greatest change that takes place?"
Bright boy: "The price, ma'am."
Three methods used to transfer heat, one pupil wrote, are: oil trucks, coal trucks, and fire trucks.—Science Review
Science deals in the truth, not its implications.—Irving Cox, Jr.
Science is resourceful. It couldn't open a day coach window, so it air-conditioned the train.—Phi Delta Kappan
An old Indian was standing on the top of a hill with his son, looking over the beautiful valley below them. Said the old Indian, "Someday, my son, all this land will belong to the Indians again. Paleface all go to the moon."—Capper's Weekly
The teacher was lecturing to a class in science. "Now, then, Bill," he said, "name me a poisonous substance."
Bill Smith, who was not gifted with an oversupply of intelligence, thought deeply. "Aviation," he said.
The class tittered with amusement, and the teacher looked sternly at the embarrassed pupil.
"Explain yourself, Bill," he demanded.
"One drop will kill, sir," responded Bill.—Sunshine Magazine
Fifty percent of scientific literature is in languages which more than half the world's scientists cannot read.—Scientific and Technical Translating
Definition of "uranium" found in a quarter-century-old dictionary still being used by George M. Ober in his law office:
"Uranium—A white, lustrous, radioactive metallic element .. . used in photography and coloring glass."
There have been some changes made since then.