Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Lions Den, or to Cambridge then I came.

I don't suppose too many people had an interest in my cryptic last blog, for those who are still curious, it was from the Norse Eddas, Havamal, to be precise.

Well we don't know our fate, and I don't know if we even make it or not, it is la Machine Infernale, as Cocteau put it in his famous play.

But my topic for today is neither the Greek nor the Norse classics, without a passing knowledge of which I do not consider anyone who calls themselves a scientist to have a proper education at all :) No, even physicist Robert Oppenheimer was predisposed to resort to the Baghavad Gita in describing the awe (if that is the appropriate word) that the real world  demonstration of his theorems gave him.

It's an appropriate place to start, he wrote to his brother
"I believe that through discipline, though not through discipline alone, we can achieve serenity, and a certain small but precious measure of the freedom from the accidents of incarnation, and charity, and that detachment which preserves the world which it renounces. "
I can't be sure that either he, nor his brother, nor anyone else has any more clue what he is on about there, than they are about my equally obscure allusions to the Norse equivalent of Karma, in my last post "Ragnarok" but there is no mistaking the application of these words from the Baghavad Gita, describing Vishnu's destiny, as beheld in the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki :
"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"
 It is perhaps the ultimate statement about responsibility in science.

And so I am pleased to announce that my abstract for a poster at the third  Autism Neuroscience Conference at Cambridge has been accepted. This one alludes not to the destruction of worlds, so much as the worlds apart of the un lettered scientist and the scientifically illiterate humanist. Not so in Erasmus'
 time, or even Darwin's.

I am pleased that it has been accepted because at last the little cul de sac of autism neuroscience is recognising a moral dimension to what they research and hope to achieve. Something that recent Imfar conferences have failed to recognise, and I have come on some way since my abstract for a paper at Imfar was rejected. Persistence pays off, but only if there is a truth in that persistence that cannot be denied forever as being irrelevant.

Whatever my destiny is, and whatever the old gods of Olympus and Asgard would have in store for me in these forthcoming "interesting" economic times I hope I shall live through their twilight into a new Renaissance, where the sciences and arts and humanities are not mutually unintelligible to their respective acolytes.