Sherry Turkle’s Falling for Science: Objects in Mindis a fascinating collection of testimonials from engineers and scientists about the childhood experiences and objects that inspired their love for science. Turkle concludes (273-4) acknowledging that we cannot predict or measure what will inspire:

“Seymour Papert writes of falling in love with thegears of a toy car that his father gave him when he was
two. Papert fell in love with the gears and through themfell in love with science. The gears inspired, but Papert
makes the point that if anyone had tried to test him todetermine what was happening as his curiosity was expanding,they would have found nothing to measure.The story of Paperts gears makes plain that finding
nothing to measure does not mean that nothingis going on. Too often, if we cant formulate a test, wegive up on a method or we give up on a child. The voicesin this collection remind us that at these moments,at the limit of measurement, we can turn directly to achild and put our deeper intelligence to work. It can bea moment when we listen, when we learn what inspires,a moment of discovery for a parent or a teacher.”

As Turkle’s title suggests, science is a love, and scientific inspiration is as mysterious as romance.

More on: Science

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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