Category: Science

Introducing a hero — Mary Scott Skinker

Mary Scott Skinker helped change our world, but most of us have never heard of her. She started by changing Rachel Carson’s world, who then rocked the whole world. And most of us do not know of Carson today either.
Mary Scott Skinker died sometime in the 20th century; I’m not sure when. She does not have an entry in Wikipedia, but she does have a phrase. “At the urging of her [Carson’s] undergraduate biology mentor Mary Scott Skinker, she settled for a temporary position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. . . .”
Rachel Carson, who does have an entry in Wikipedia. Read this three-paragraph intro, especially the third one:
“Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
“Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award. . . Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths.
“Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.”
Mary Scott Skinker leads to Rachel Carson, who leads to a world concerned about the environment, and rightfully so.
I think most of us feel pretty “small” much of the time. We will never have an entry in Wikipedia or any other pedia. But we can be a Mary Scott Skinker to someone. We can encourage, educate, help, promote, and encourage some more.
We may be lifting up the next Rachel Carson or the next Mary Scott Skinker. We need each other. And the ones who leave big marks on history need the “little” ones of us to help them.
I once wanted to be a Rachel Carson. Now, I would settle for being another Mary Scott Skinker.

Living for truth — of science and religion

I love science. I don’t know a whole lot about science, but I love the desire to know the truth about our physical reality. It’s similar to a desire I have to know the truth about our supernatural reality.

A story in today’s Washington Post titled “Physics rule broken? European scientists claim neutrinos traveled faster than speed of light,” illustrates why I love science. This finding may prove to be in error, but scientists are scrambling to find out. I love this quote:

“We’d be thrilled if it’s right because we love something that shakes the foundation of what we believe,” said famed Columbia University physicist Brian Greene. “That’s what we live for.”

This is the opposite of what you often get in the religious world. Religionists don’t like to have their foundations shaken. I would simply say this, our desire in understanding the supernatural world should be the same as science’s desire to understand the physical world. We should be seeking to know the truth, because, as Jesus said, the truth sets you free.

Pope Benedict XVI said this recently at the University of Regensburg in Germany on Sept. 13:

“The scientific ethos, moreover, is … the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of the Christian spirit.”

Some religionists don’t like science, and the main reason is fear. Why? If we are confident in our faith, we have no need to fear what science will discover.

Obviously, science and scientists are not without flaw. Some people are basically science religionists. Science is their religion; it’s their god. Science and religion do not make good gods. Only God is God.