Thursday, October 14, 2010

Getting the Chile chills

We write a lot about what we think is wrong in science.  It's not because people should be perfect but we think science should always be under scrutiny because we, like any other group of people, can go off the deep end and become trapped in our own perspective--and self interest.  There is a lot that is selfish in society, including science.

But sometimes, in the most noble of ways, we human creatures can do incredibly generous things.  The latest example is, of course, the effort to rescue the Chilean miners.  How much cost, coming from how many peoples' pockets, has been invested in saving just 33 men's lives--and they're not even scientists!  In the scope of things, it would have been cheaper to just say 'too bad, how tragic!'  A few years from now nobody would remember.  Even not so many years from now these 33 men will have died and been forgotten.

But it's hard to imagine anyone not being deeply moved by the effort and selfless generosity of what has been achieved.  This has been a global response.  Only after we drafted this post did we learn, much to our pleasure, that a company from near to where we live in Pennsylvania was responsible for some of the rock drilling that got through to the miners.  Somehow, even though the miners are not related genetically to their rescuers, no kinship or fitness criteria came into play, except the kindred spirit of humanity.

The cold chills that one experienced thinking of the fate of the trapped miners a couple of months ago, are now chills of elation as one by one they emerge from their rescue tube.

So, we wanted just to take a breather and recognize something that seems unadulterated good, and to congratulate the many people who made it possible.

(There is, by the way, despite lots of selfishness, extensive sharing and cooperation in genetics, even if it's not heroic in the same way as the mine-rescue. And the credit goes to many people, including a lot of it to Francis Collins for working to keep data in the public domain)

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

it was wonderful to watch it streamed yesterday with no commentary interupting. Went so smoothly and the Chilean president there to greet the miners. He gave a great, inspiring speech when it was all over, too. Not even one adulterated by politics.