Neil deGrasse Tyson. Astrophysicist, and a pretty cool guy.
He Gave a talk at the Overture Center for the Arts last Monday night. I was there along with 2247 other cool people. It was one of the Overture’s largest crowds. I’ve enjoyed this guy for a long time and thought very highly of his recent “Cosmos” series on Fox. This guy makes me want to go back to school and learn a shit load of science – because science is pretty cool.
Beyond all of the interesting things to learn about the elements and what makes us us, beyond the interesting things that happen on our planet and outside of our planet… there is also a history of how we obtained that information. This is something that I find to be almost more interesting than the information we discovered. There is also a great message in looking back at that history.
A perfect example of this is taking a look back at the Golden Age of Islam. If I was told about this when I was in school, I must have completely not paid any attention. I kind of think that there was no discussion of this when I was in school. This, in my opinion, is the kind of history we need to know about. Not just this exact period in time but any period in time where decisions made by individuals would change the course of history. There have been quite a few of these.
Imagine, if you will, a time and a place where people would gather together to study and learn and push the limits of what was currently known. Imagine a place where it did not matter who you were or where you came from. Imagine that there was time when the value of information was so high, it was something that conquering armies would seek out as much, if not more than other valuable items such as gold or land. Imagine that this went on for about 300 years. Also imagine that all of this happened in Baghdad.
You don’t have to imagine. It happened. Then, in 1200, things changed and there was the idea – from a small group of leaders – that this knowledge stuff was the work of the devil. As views changed, this period of learning ended. Using your imagination again, what might have happened if the learning and investigating and experimenting had continued?