Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Will scientific truth set you free?

Max Delbruck (1906-1981) started his career as a physicist but switched to biology, and shared a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to genetics.

About 20 years ago I heard a speaker refer to a commencement (i.e., graduation ceremony) address by Delbruck at Caltech in 1978, entitled the Arrow of Time: Beginning and End. I always wanted to track down a copy and a few years ago via a web searchI was delighted when I found that Delbruck's son Tobi has a site with an annotated copy of the original text of the address.
It is really worth a read. A particularly fascinating aspect of the address is where Delbruck deconstructs the Caltech motto, "The truth shall set you free," pointing out how the Caltech founders took this saying of Jesus completely out of context. Overall, Delbruck gives a balanced view of what science can and cannot do.

No comments:

Post a Comment