Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Thank God for Science



Yesterday a Canadian physicist was awarded a Nobel Prize, or at least half of one, for his work on the sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos. Arthur McDonald, a professor emeritus at Queen's University also takes home a nice chunk of change at $650,000, even in sharing the prize with Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo.

This award make me think of heading down a mineshaft on a frigid January day years ago while living in Sudbury. The logistics project manager for SNO, Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, was in my congregation and  arranged for me to go underground during construction of the orb in the image above before it was filled with heavy water and then flooded on the exterior. Not many people had the opportunity to see it under construction and after the chamber was flooded it was no longer visible. I have mentioned before that I climbed into the elevator cage with a gang of miners heading to the nickel ore at other levels as I travelled 6,000 feet down to the observatory. Even though it was -30 degrees Celsius at the surface it was hot deep into the bedrock.

This excursion was certainly one of my life's highlights. It always saddens me when religion in its fundamentalist forms is suspicious of science, as though it is an affront to "true faith." Whether it is creationism, or resistance to modern medicine, or general antipathy to the developments of science, it is really an affront to God who gave us the capacity to explore and develop these capacities.

Congratulations to Dr. McDonald, and thank God for all of the positive frontiers of scientific exploration.


2 comments:

Judy said...

Amen!

Frank said...

I think this story exemplifies the importance of "basic" vs. "applied" research.
Our current government has re-directed research dollars away from basic research in favour of applied research which feeds immediate commercial applications.
So, in today's political environment of muzzled scientists and restricted funding, SNOLAB would never have got off the ground, and a Canadian researcher would not be receiving a Nobel prize.
The results of this activity allows us to bask in the awe of God's natural world as we attempt to gain a greater understanding of how it all works.