Answering Tough Questions in Science
George F. Smoot III, an astrophysicist at the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, recently made one of this century’s most important scientific discoveries. He and his research team uncovered the first evidence of the formation of primordial structures from the universe’s creation.
Essentially, Smoot and his crew produced a map of the ancient universe showing temperature fluctuations in the radiation left over from the “big bang,” the explosion that scientists believe created the universe some 15 billion years ago. To reach and confirm their findings, Smoot and his team persevered through painstaking computer analysis of more than 300 million measurements taken by a NASA satellite launched in 1989.
Though Smoot’ s discovery and subsequent statement (“If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.”) have been controversial among some fundamentalist groups, Smoot says he sees no inconsistency between his team’s results and religious ideas of creation. “Anytime you solve a question like this, you raise two more,” he said. ‘The big bang was the creation event 15 billion years ago and it can be argued that God created it.”
A member of Smoot’ s research team, George Lineweaver, added, “The scientific story of creation that we’re talking about is incomplete. In science whenever you answer a question you create two more, so that, in a sense, the unknown gets larger. If you invoke God in that unknown, there will always be something for God to do in science.”
Congratulations to N.C. State U.
Kudoes to the eight-acre arboretum at North Carolina State University for winning the 1992 award for the nation’s best public garden.
The American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta recognized the school’s programs in botanical education, plant introduction, and research as models for all public gardens.
The arboretum contains 6,000 varieties of plants from 42 countries, including 450 different kinds of daffodils.
According to a national poll of 1991 college freshmen, published by the American Council on Education:
- only 15.8% considered making a theoretical contribution to science an important objective;
- only 11 .3% considered creating artist work an important objective;
- while, 73.7% considered being “financially very well off to be an important objective.
Public Criticisms of Art Museums On Sunday, December 13, 1992, the New York Times reported the results of a Getty Center for Education in the Arts survey defining the perceptions of museum-goers.
The following is the sampling they published:
- “People did not linger in the 20th-century galleries. They went through fast.”
- “When I asked the guard a question, I was referred to the information desk.”
- “[Some of] the art looked like something I could have done myself”
- “The signs were all very uniform. They were almost like an eye test they were so small.”
- “How many times do you want to look at Buddah? Boring.”
- ‘Toward the end it got monotonous.”
The editors of The Docent Educator believe that docents are the best and most available resource museums have to overcome many of these problems and to improve the quality of museum visits. Though labels and handouts can do the telling, only docents can do the teaching. While the curatorial staff can prepare labels, only educators can provide visitors with what they truly seek from the experience of visiting art museums … a communion with art through developed viewing skills and interactive contemplation of the works.
“For Your Consideration,” Docent Educator (Spring 1993): 13.