Sunday, November 10, 2013

The odds of scientific poiesis

Nautilus is a new journal which aspires to become the New Yorker of science writing - as if there can ever be such a thing. Most of the articles there are, indeed, finely written. But once in a while some overethusiastic prose does seems to slip in. Here is the teaser they emailed lately for an article festooned with the poetic title "The Odds of Innocence":

"Our group of astronomers took in the naked mountains by the sea. We had flown into the La Serena airport at noon, and found a parched landscape. What sparse vegetation there was survived by drinking coastal fog. Sleeping dogs melted in the sun and dotted the sidewalks beneath knotted telephone wires. In the busy town bazaar, an ancient man stood stooped by his cargo, dripping sweat, while two wolfish dogs sat on top of his empty car, a kind of primal security system."

This is perhaps what happens when someone with an intensely nerdy mindset tries to wax lyrical. I do wish D'Arcy W. Thompson was still alive - but then he probably wouldn't have been granted a Ph.D.