The Two Cultures

The Two Worlds post below was clearly alluding to C. P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures”.  I have not read Snow’s book, but it is definitely next on the list.  As an undergraduate at the University of Sussex I was required to take an “Arts/Science” course as part of my degree.  True to Snow’s perception, this was taken as some sort of half-hearted attempt to raise the knuckles of scientists and engineers a little off the ground.  It was however more than slightly revealing in that no “Science/Arts” course existed.  I wonder why not?  In fact, I didn’t wonder why not for a second, nor did any of my fellow science students.  I just took a look at the WIKI entry for C. P. Snow to see if I could find anything regarding the two cultures that I could put into this post.  Snow obviously preceded my own thoughts on the subject by a good few decades, and as his mastery of the language far surpasses my own, I’ll leave it to Snow to finish off this post:

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: ‘Have you read a work of Shakespeare‘s?’
I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question – such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, ‘Can you read?’ – not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their Neolithic ancestors would have had.”
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