Our first science

I realise that this is from a piece of fictional writing, but I thought it beautiful and relevant to science education – the last line in particular.

“The miracle of fire is that it dies. It is a chemical and sometimes an atomic reaction, the collapse and recombination of things at their most fundamental level. Without it, we could not exist, and yet if it persisted past the point where it wanes, nothing would survive. Thus, the saving grace of fire is that it has limits and can be extinguished.
At least, very small fires can be. Others, one must simply outlive. We are so proud of our mastery of the element; we unleashed the broken atom in 1945 and thought ourselves quite significant, but a bad forest fire will release in ten minutes all the energy which consumed Hiroshima, and produce heat four hundred times greater than our most sophisticated firefighting units can control. Fire was our first magic and our first science, and we have harnessed it hardly at all.” (p.333)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold, mine) Nick Harkaway (2008) The Gone-Away World. William Heinemann: London.

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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