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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Bronowski, Jacob (1908-1974)
"Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature."

-- Jacob Bronowski


Jacob Bronowski was the presenter of the BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man which inspired Carl Sagan's Cosmos series. As a student at Jesus College, Cambridge, he co-edited - with William Empson - the literary periodical Experiment which first appeared in 1928.

Bronowski had a Ph.D. in algebraic geometry, and was a poet (he lived near to Laura Riding and Robert Graves in Majorca in the 1930s). He spent the war in Operations Research; afterwards he became Director of Research for the National Coal Board (UK). After his experiences as an official observer of the after-effects of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings he turned to biology, as did his friend, Leo Szilard, to better understand the nature of violence. He was an Associate Director of the Salk Institute from 1964.

He is the father of the British academic Lisa Jardine.

Quotations

"Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast over nature."

"There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility."

"It is often said that the progression from simple to complex runs counter to the normal statistics of chance that are formalized in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Strictly speaking, we could avoid this criticism simply by insisting that the Second Law does not apply to living systems in the environment in which we find them. For the Second Law applies only when there is no overall flow of energy into or out of a system, whereas all living systems are sustained by a net inflow of energy."

 
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