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Where Does Science Come From?

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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Click here for Stephon’s profile.

So I wondered…. Where does science come from?

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Does it come from Bill Nye the Science Guy? After all, “science” is right there in his name.

Or does it come from Google? When I do a Google search for “science,” I get over a billion results. That has to be the mother lode of all scientific thought, right?

Good guesses, my friends, but no cigar.

These answers can’t be right, because, as remarkable as it may seem, science existed even before Bill Nye the Science Guy and Google were twinkles in their parents’ eyes.

Adrift in a harsh, unyielding universe and searching for answers, I looked for help from our new scientist, Stephon Alexander. And he told me where he had found science:

Where Does Science Come From?-stephon_for_blog_1.jpg
Young Stephon…

“The roots of me becoming a theoretical physicist started back in the island of Trinidad. I grew up in a village close to Venezuela. So it was on the southern coast of the island, and there was very little light pollution. And as a kid, we believed in things like ghosts, and we called them ‘jumbies’ in Trinidad. So if you’re a kid out at night, and no one has ever told you that the Moon is a moon—a piece of rock in outer space—you might think that it could be a jumbie trying to follow you. That was my big question. Why is this thing, whenever I run away from it, it just continues to follow me? Or why doesn’t it ever come and try to get me? So that kind of question, a natural inquisitiveness, I had, wondering about things, especially the night sky. You know, looking at little insects and trying to distinguish, ‘Okay, what makes this alive when a piece of twig isn’t alive?’ So I used to wonder about these things. And that natural environment of Trinidad, without the light pollution and noise pollution, really provided a good setting for that.”

I finally had my answer.

Science, it turns out, comes from Trinidad.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.