Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Two Cultures

I have to admit to not knowing an awful lot about Marco Rubio. Florida Senator? Hispanic Republican? That's about it. But I can't quite share in the gleeful gotcha that GQ wrought when they asked him for the geological age of the earth.

Tom Chivers is particularly scathing of Rubio's failure to answer ("I'm not a scientist man").

"I'm not a scientist, man": well, I'm not a doctor, man, but I know where my femur is. This is, roughly speaking, a question of equivalent difficulty.

I'm not a scientist either, and my first thought was, really? I had literally no idea how old the earth was. I'm not exactly uneducated (what with the whole Oxford post-grad thing) but I wouldn't have got within a billion years of the right answer. (In my defence, I do know that 4004BC isn't the right answer).

I suspect this is yet another illustration of CP Snow's argument that the nation is rigidly divided between arts and science...

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a scientist, and, well, I don't have confidence that I'd get very close. But the universe is about 14 billion years old, and our sun is at least second generation (because of those heavy metals) and probably third. So the Earth is probably about 2 or 3 billion years old, but it could easily be a couple of billion years older. I don't think it's younger than that.

But then, I know basically nothing about geology.

11:20 pm  

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