Th’ Gaussling went on a minor field trip recently to the local art museum in Denvertown to see the marvels of King Tut. And what a marvel it was … of marketing. It is hard to say that the exhibit met expectations. To be sure, there are some fine artifacts on display. And it is a splendid example of museum-craft. Notable is the exquisite goldsmithing and scuplture on display. There are decorative articles that resemble a form of gold filigree that are quite impressive for the era. My northern European ancestors were sleeping in hollow logs and howeling at the moon when the Egyptians were doing the work on display.
But at the end of the day, the exhibit is yet another recasting of history in a theatrical form suitable for the attention deficit masses. Case in point: a video short subject portrays DNA work on a mummy where the scientist assures us that such research is a part of the larger effort to cure disease. Golly, sounds urgent.
Well, maybe there will be useful findings that contribute to the betterment of human health. But if it doesn’t , is the knowledge useless? I think not. This is the same sort of lame apologia used for jusifying space exploration or studying the frogs of Amazonia. If you are not looking around, you are not going to find new things.
Scientists should stand firm with the conviction that exploration is a net benefit for mankind. We should be more careful that claims of a breakthrough are tempered bya realistic warning about the speed of progress. We should stop leading people along with false expectations about the fabulous things just around the corner. All progress is the result of prolonged hard work by many people.