The Alchemist Analytical Essay

The Alchemist Analytical Essay-79
In all of nature there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself.We need, for this most worrying of puzzles, the brightest and youngest of our most agile minds, capable of dreaming up ideas not dreamed before, ready to carry the imagination to great depths and, I should hope, handy with big computers but skeptical about long questionnaires and big numbers.[…] Who will be bringing in the data telling us what to expect when, say, five million of us vanish in twenty minutes and another five million are left behind with bone marrows burned out and skins in shreds, looking at what is left of the dead and waiting to die?

In all of nature there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself.We need, for this most worrying of puzzles, the brightest and youngest of our most agile minds, capable of dreaming up ideas not dreamed before, ready to carry the imagination to great depths and, I should hope, handy with big computers but skeptical about long questionnaires and big numbers.[…] Who will be bringing in the data telling us what to expect when, say, five million of us vanish in twenty minutes and another five million are left behind with bone marrows burned out and skins in shreds, looking at what is left of the dead and waiting to die?

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If anything like this does turn up we will be looking back at today’s social scientists, and their close colleagues the humanists, as having launched the new science in a way not all that different from the accomplishment of the old alchemists, by simply working on the problem — this time, the fundamental, primal universality of the human mind.

In another essay from the collection, titled “Making Science Work,” Thomas revisits the subject, reaching across time and space to shake us out of our present cult of “big data” and remind us of the significance of small, humane data: The social scientists …

This, it seems to me, requires study; mandates study.

Will no one be casting an anthropological eye at the dilemma to be faced when human beings cease being human?

Hard facts were learned about the behavior of metals and their alloys, the mathematics of thermodynamics were worked out, and, with just a few jumps through the centuries, the helical molecule of DNA was revealed in all its mystery.

The Alchemist Analytical Essay

[…] [Now] alchemy exists only as a museum piece, an intellectual fossil, so antique that we no longer need be embarrassed by the memory, but the memory is there. It works because the people involved in it work, and With that singular superpower of the essayist to draw connections between the seemingly unrelated, Lewis pivots to his central point — a point tenfold more relevant, urgent even, three and a half decades later: Something rather like this may be going on now, without realizing it, in the latest and grandest of all fields of science.

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In yet another prescient essay titled “Basic Science and the Pentagon,” Thomas stresses the urgency of funding basic science — science marked by “the absence of any predictable, usable product,” carried out “in an atmosphere of high uncertainty,” and built on “What if? ” questions — and the importance of incorporating social science into our most pressing research priorities.

He writes: The present administration has no special fondness for the social and behavioral sciences, and the National Science Foundation is sharply reducing its funding — never generous at best — for these stepchildren of scholarship.

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