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Dominica weekly is a personal weblog about the nature island of Dominica.


Some folks in Calibishie have nicknamed me “The Scientist” because they know that I like to explain scientific things whenever I get the opportunity, and teach them too. I’ve given a number of science-learning tools to some of the children in our village. I showed one of them how to induce magnetism in a pin, and then float the pin on a leaf to make a simple compass, which she did as a science project in school.

I also explain evolution to people, which gives missionaries fits. That evolution is a theory only exemplifies that in science we have no immutable laws that can’t be challenged – you wouldn’t disbelieve gravity, which is also a theory!

I’ve brought a telescope to Dominica and have used it to show people the features of the moon’s surface, the moons of Jupiter, the gas nebula in the constellation Orion, and the phases of Venus. I still want to show people the Andromeda galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia and Saturn’s rings. I was spurred to do this by an adult who believed – the missionaries again! – that stars were diamonds put into the sky by God.

Bear in mind that every civilization has its creation myths. That goes for modern biblical literalists, cultists such as the Scientologists and the Cargo Cult, Hindus, Caribs, the ancient Greeks, and myriad African peoples. In a way, it is surprising that so many Dominicans, whose ancestors may have been transported by slavers, have adopted the white man’s religion. Also bear in mind that when religion claims the unchallengeable monopoly of knowledge, it must act to prevent the advance of real scientific inquiry and discovery.

By the way, the word “science” itself goes against an English spelling rule: “i before e except after c, or when sounded like a as in neighbor and weigh”.

Numbers in science are also amazing: There are more stars in the observable universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world. There are more molecules of water in a single cup of water than there are cups of water in all the seas of the world.

Sizes in science are also amazing: If a single atom were expanded to the size of the US, its nucleus would be about the size and location of a single house in Nebraska. The rest of the atom is empty space.

Worth thinking about, isn’t it?

This post was guest blogged by Dan Tanner

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