11_11_2010I remember very vividly when, in the notes of the college, I brought home an A in physics. It would have been perfect if it had not been accompanied by a 70 in language, an 80 in history and a 30 in mathematics, among other magnitudes, some of them not very great. That the score was out of a hundred is something that my parents quickly noticed. Everything is relative I could have argued, at the risk of my (physical) integrity, but I think my parents knew that in addition to relative elements there are also constants, and my constant had a linguistic translation of that number ten: you are a fool, but with dear.

In adolescence, certain physical forces act on individuals with as much energy as the traditional ones; the nuclear force (strong and weak), electromagnetism and gravity have to compete in intensity and interest with hormonal impulses. But even these do not seem today sufficient dispensation for having disregarded the foundations of the world around me.

At fifteen (and at forty), indulgence in one’s own acts is a very comfortable place to live. We could easily have excused ourselves in the existence of unmotivated teachers and leaden programs. True, but once the initial swallow of what is regulated has been overcome, nothing prevents us from discovering what has been an unknown land for our granite head.

Bordering on coming of age, the perfect alibi arrived “those of sciences ” and “those of letters ” were divided into groups, not only mental, but also physical, in separate classrooms, with the exception of the mixed ones (which sandwiches or hairdressers), but also these with a science or letters label. The high school ghettos seemed to compete with the idea that epistemology cannot and should not be amputated at its limits, fortunately diffuse.

Once this division has been internalized, once, before a structured, scientifically profound or mathematically logical discourse that we do not understand, those of us who are literate have manifested our supine ignorance by brandishing the disastrous phrase “I am literate.” In four words, the sentence comes to mean: look, I don’t understand you one jot, but I lack the humility to, first; understand what you say, second; I know other things that you don’t know, and third; I have wasted a magnificent opportunity to shut up and learn something.

What’s more, this phrase is also blurted out when the lack of knowledge of Excel is notorious, the ostracism of the points followed in an essay, or the inability to divide with two decimal places. It has twins in other areas, but it is equally unfortunate in terms of its intervention, for example, “I am from the neighborhood”, to try to justify the demolition of the foundations of Latin grammar or the lack of respect for your interlocutor, all of this while shouting at each other. to a prodigious volume.

At the opposite extreme we find universal characters who have known how to move wonderfully without artificial borders. Athanasius Kircher (S. XVII), as genius or more than Leonardo, (but without code and without best seller), taught philosophy, Chinese, Greek, volcanism, magnetism, light and more, much more .

I would also like to remember Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (between the 17th and 18th centuries), a German philosopher, mathematician, jurist, librarian and politician whom Wikipedia calls the last universal genius. The latter is debatable since, between the 18th and 19th centuries, my admired Alexander Von Humboldt, in addition to being a tireless adventurer, bequeathed to humanity ethnography, anthropology, physics, zoology, ornithology, climatology, oceanography, astronomy , geography, geology, mineralogy, botany, volcanology and of course, humanism.

For them the divisions did not exist, it is more seems admitted that philosophy and physics are sisters. One asks everything and the other has a claim that is not vain but immeasurable; explain it all There are many examples of this twinning, and in embodying them I would like to cite some recent ones, from the 20th century. For example, Bertrand Russell (read “In Praise of Idleness< /a>“, you may like it), or Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel Prize winner in physics, a philosopher by vocation and with great influence in Biology for his book “What is life?”. Erwin enjoyed good company, quality beer (here our resemblance to him) and (partially) uncovering the veil of apparently chaotic quantum mechanics and its zoo of subatomic particles.

By enumerating these phenomena of knowledge, it is not a question of advocating their emulation, but of demystifying the borders and emphasizing that science is close, and within our reach . On television (great programTres Catorce), in podcast or radio, parallel universe, the Irreducible Villagewith deliciously mixed history and science and hundreds of others unknown to the writer. Scientific books and scientists themselves are doing an incredible job of uniting these parallel “multiverses” of letters and science that seem to interact little lately. We know the pioneers of this country, like Punset, and we must admire people like José Manuel Sánchez Ron. This is a tireless disseminator; In addition to being Physicist, he occupies the suggestive chair G of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language and is a member of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences.

Outside our country, let me quote Michio Kaku, a great connoisseur and researcher of the celebrated string theory. In addition to his research facet, he teaches, entertains and explains exciting concepts of current physics without a single formula, for example in his book “Physics of the Impossible“.

In short, all these outreach materials are in bookstores, yes, but also in libraries, free, and within our reach. There are few excuses left to get to know our world and, who knows, perhaps others that we haven’t even imagined yet.