The sublime in the mundane

“Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiarity with knowledge …. The scientist, who is not content with superficial views, harasses himself with fruitless curiosity; and still, as he inquires more, perceives only that he knows less. …” so wrote the English man of letters, Samuel Johnson nearly three centuries ago. Like the scientist, the minds of […]

Watching Paint Dry by L. Mahadevan, The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal

Somewhat reversing the trend towards reductionism, over the last few decades there has been a growing appreciation of the richness and variety of phenomena that arise from relatively few and fairly simple causes in the natural world. There is mystery and magic in the mundane. And what is more—it can be experienced, every day, everywhere by everyone. It is also a gentle reminder that science can be an engaging and enriching cultural, and ultimately human activity, not always a means to an end.