Good Friday Morning!
In the sciences, we often are trying to make intelligent decisions for the betterment of the world based on “what we know at the time” - which is often incomplete, at best. I love working in the sciences, and virtually everyone I’ve ever met who works in these areas has the best of intentions in the work they do. In short, they all are working for “the betterment of mankind” in their minds, and put in the effort that a calling such as that requires.
The catch to this is that it’s often hard to tell where the ripples of your work may lead.
I wonder if Alexander Fleming had any ideas about antibiotic resistance when he invented penicillin, or was only thinking about lives saved (estimated at 200 million lives saved).
Paul Muller invented something in 1939 that won him the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1948, and is estimated to have saved even more lives - 500 million.
That invention was DDT, and was banned worldwide in 2004.
I read this week where a representative for a natural gas company was quoted as saying “we don’t wake up in the morning thinking about what stream we’re going to pollute”. I believe him, generally, but at the same time that’s the intersection of science and business - so while it might not be that malicious, I do wonder if he stays awake at night wondering what the long term outcomes of his work might be.
I don’t know exactly where my work is going, or who it might influence, but to assume it will only do what you intend it to do is naive at best. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop, but at least I am thinking about it.
Hope y’all have a great weekend. As I worried might be the case, I was a bit too busy to put a note together for you wonderful folks on Tuesday. Today’s image from a lovely wintery walk along Chestnut Ridge in West Virginia.
Cold Clear Mountain Water - West Virginia