Science, Ethics, and Human Destiny

  • John C. Polanyi
Part of the Series in Biomedical Engineering book series (BIOMENG)

Science, as you know, used to be termed “natural philosophy.” It was a good description. We scientists philosophize about nature. We have been doing this to such effect in this century that we have transformed the accepted view of matter, energy, space, life, death, and almost the universe. Coincidentally, we have reshaped the world we live in, extending and enriching human life and, regrettably, furnishing the machinery for mega-death.

Though we do science so well—some would say too well—we do not explicitly know how we do it. We have no instruction booklets to offer. That is why we have our students work alongside us in our laboratories. They are required to imitate somebody who has the skill that they want to acquire, and they should imitate us on the occasions that we do it right.

This last statement implies that, though we have no rules for making discoveries, we do have some inkling of when we have made them. Nothing too surprising about that, you may say, it is paradoxical but...


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Polanyi
    • 1
  1. 1.Nobel Prize Laureate, Department of ChemistryUniversity of TorontoCanada

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