Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Section 3 continued


Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

The City of Seattle is in the State of Washington. (See previous post. A former teaching colleague of mine suggested this question for a General Studies exam paper: "Difficult things have simple explanations. Discuss." I am used to thinking of Washington just as a City in a District but have also become used to learning by reading Poul Anderson.)

Anderson, through Hanno, refers to seven places in Seattle:

the revolving bar on the Space Needle with its incomparable view of mountain and water;
Emmett Watson's;
the International District;
Green Lake;
the University campus;
a light-industry section between Green Lake and the campus;
in this section, the fictional Rufus Memorial Institute which tried "...to discover what made living beings grow old..." (p. 377) and which might therefore be organizationally linked to the Longevity Studies mentioned on p. 370.

Hanno's discussion of aging and death with Institute Director Samuel Gianotti recalls similar discussions in James Blish's They Shall Have Stars. Gianotti refers to methyl groups and prokaryotes and says that "'Evolution is cut-and-dry.'" (p.381) Does he mean "...cut-and-try"?

Meanwhile, Wanderer backpacks in the Olympics. I had not known that there was such a mountain range.

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And I recall how Samuel Gianotti is described as being a devout and learned Catholic as well. If I recall rightly, he thought some of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas would help resolve Hanno's philosophical troubles and questions.

    While I think scientific research along the lines outlined by Gianotti might eventually lead to prolonging human life spans, I don't think immortality of the kind we see in THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS is at all likely. Something like the fairly modest "antisenescence" we see in the Technic History stories may be possible (with human life spans extending to about 120 years, at most).

    Sean

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  2. Ave, Sean!
    I haven't come across the reference to Aquinas yet but I will shortly refer to Gianotti's Catholicism in a post.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I had to speak from memory! Gianotti mignt not have mentioned Aquinas to himself at all, in his mind. He may have been thinking more generally about the philosophers and theologians he wished Hanno to take a look at.

      Sean

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  3. Sean,
    Giannotti does advise Hanno to consult a competent theologian about science and theology being different spheres.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Aha! Gianotti had in mind the Catholic view that faith and reason do not contradict each other. That sciences like biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy do not contradict what I hold to have been revealed to us by God in matters of faith and morals.

      In fact, as Poul Anderson has discussed in works IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS? or "Delenda Est," what we call the sciences arose because Christianity (esp. Catholic Christianity).

      It has been mostly the Protestants, after all, not the Catholics, who have trouble with evolution and an ancient Earth (rather than a young Earth). The first OFFICIAL judging of evolution by the Catholic Church only came in 1950 (99 years after THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES was published), when Pius XII declared in HUMANI GENERIS that evolution was not, per se, contrary to revealed truths. The late John Paul II went even further in 1996 when he declared in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that evolution had to be accepted as proven.

      Sean

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