10 February 2015

"A great part of our dignity"

Surely this is a great part of our dignity . . . that we can know, and that through us matter can know itself; that beginning with protons and electrons, out of the womb of time and the vastness of space, we can begin to understand; that organized as in us, the hydrogen, the carbon, the nitrogen, the oxygen, those 16 to 21 elements, the water, the sunlight — all, having become us, can begin to understand what they are, and how they came to be.
— George Wald (1964)
The more we learn, the more we are — or ought to be — dumbfounded.
— Lewis Thomas (1983)

Image: Plant cells with visible chloroplasts from a moss Plagiomnium affine, Kristian Peters. There can be around 50 chloroplasts in a typical plant cell. A square millimetre of leaf may contain 450,000 to 800,000 chloroplasts.

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