Monday, May 20, 2013

Good science a la Hal Clement, 1950s sci-fi

As readers of my blog would know, I am taking an Intro to Biology class via and MIT. It is free, and for self-improvement and education (or job-readiness) rather than course credit.

Lately, they have been discussing evolution (a concept I actually agree with) as demonstrated by shared elements of mammalian genomes (human and chimp and lemur and mouse, for instance). It really bothers me that the scientists seem so inperturbably self-assured over the origins of life, which I hope is even a more powerful comment seeing that I respect and agree with their theories. Where is the healthy skepticism?

I was reminded recently of the author Hal Clement and his excellent books (such as Half Life) and short stories (such as "Proof"). I did think a lot of his higher acclaimed books, such as Mission of Gravity, but they made less of an impression on me.

I found this link reviewing Half Life:

"Clement's references aren't all scientific, and some of them will be quite amusing to Golden Age SF fans. A lot of space is given over to General Order 6 -- an attempt to avoid hastily jumping to conclusions by requiring anyone with a hypothesis to present at least one viable alternative. This is also referred to as the "Aaron Munro instant-certainty syndrome," in reference to John W. Campbell's famous character of the same name."

Here's review of the author:

I also found this quote for Hal Clement online: (I'm shocked this is all I can find)
"Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science."
Hal Clement

I need to read his 1993 novel Fossil and his 1950s award-winning short "Uncommon Sense"

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