Question of the Week 02-24-16

Feb 23, 2016

Renowned physicist Lawrence Krauss eloquently describes the beauty and wonder of pure science in almost poetic terms. Share with us an incident in your life that both illuminated the natural world and inspired awe. How might we better imbue this sense of the ordinary as extraordinary in others?

 

Be sure to also check out Lawrence’s piece about why now is the time to put an open atheist on the Supreme Court!

First time winners will receive a copy of Richard’s book “An Appetite for Wonder”!


Want to suggest a Question of the Week? Email submissions to us at qotw@www.richarddawkins.net. (Questions only, please. All answers to bimonthly questions are made only in the comments section of the Question of the Week.)

2 comments on “Question of the Week 02-24-16

  • Last spring I bought a new camera and I took it out one afternoon to try it out and become accustomed to its many buttons and knobs. I live in Western North Carolina and chose a trail that crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway to shoot some spring wildflowers. The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) were in bloom. They have large clusters of rather ordinary white flowers, but the buds are photogenic: a bright pink and shaped like Chinese lanterns. I wanted a shot of an open flower next to a bud, so I reached out to nudge an open bloom nearer the bud I was photographing and one of its tiny stamens catapulted pollen onto my finger! On closer inspection, I could see that, as the buds opened, the stamens, each gently held in a depression in the flower, would be pulled into tension so that any bee landing to collect nectar would have pollen catapulted onto it.

    I sat back on my heels when I realized that I had initially written this off as a boring cluster of ordinary white flowers and had had to look closely to witness something truly amazing. How many other wondrous things had I passed by today? Last week? Last year? In my life! Having learned evolution in a high school biology classroom, I understood that these mechanical flowers evolved over an unimaginable period of time into efficient pollen catapults. But it was here on a path in the Blue Ridge Mountains that I was awestruck by the imperceptible but inexorable power of the march of evolution. My husband came back around a bend in the path and asked, “Are you OK?” and I answered, “Yes. Come closer and watch this!”



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