Daily Archives: January 2, 2011

Isaac Asimov

Asimov’s “Science and Beauty,” first published in the Washington Post in 1979

Today is Isaac Asimov‘s birthday (1920-1992).

Frye in “Introduction to Design for Learning“:

Mathematics is often said to be the language of science, but it is a secondary language: all elementary understanding is verbal, and most of the understanding of it at any level continues to be so.  The verbal understanding of science, at least on the elementary level, is quite as much imaginative, quite as dependent on metaphor and analogy, as it is descriptive.  Here is a passage from The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, by Isaac Asimov, which illustrates how metaphorical a writer must become when he has to explain science to scientific illiterates: “Cosmic rays bombarding atoms in the earth’s upper atmosphere knock out neutrons when they shatter the atoms; some of these neutrons bounce out of the atmosphere into space; they then decay into protons, and the charged protons are trapped by magnetic lines of force of the earth.”  This functional use of metaphor is one of the many reasons why no programme of study in English, however utilitarian its aims, can ever lose contact with English as literature.  (CW 7, 134)