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The Weather Garden

What is science? Politicians pontificate about this question. Judges rule on it. Scientists ignore it. (Most are as interested in the history and philosophy of science as birds are in ornithology.) In their “weather garden” Holly Nelson, Matt Kiefer and their collaborators provide an answer: science is a garden. Both activities require a passion for beauty and harmony, and above all a mastery of the art of compromise!
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A true gardener would never dream of maintaining an English lawn in the deserts of Arizona and Nevada, or of growing sunflowers in the deep shade of a dense forest. A true gardener acknowledges nature’s constraints, and within them creates an island of order in a sea of disorder.

Scientists ask questions. Selectively. Of the many questions we have to address to make sense of this perplexing world, scientists carefully choose a few, and answer them in a highly idealized context, creating pools of order and understanding in a seemingly chaotic world. In the case of the constantly changing weather, scientists try to explain how wild winds, whimsical clouds and gentle rain depend on the colors of the rainbow in sunlight. That knowledge enables them to make limited predictions of the weather a few days hence, and even of hurricanes such as Katrina. Science, however, does not tell us what we should do with that information, or how we should live our lives. Science does not provide all the answers. It has severe limitations, needs nurturing, does not threaten, and is fun, as is evident from a walk through these pools of order in a chaotic sea of bamboo!

George Philander
Princeton University

 

Quark Park is being developed by Kevin Wilkes, AIA; Peter Soderman; and Alan Goodheart, ASLA. The World Hope Foundation has joined forces with this team to be the fiscal agent for the project. The World Hope Foundation mission supports self-determination in communities by bringing resources to community members and educational experts that are willing to step forward and enhance the lives of their children and elders. The Foundation is a qualified as a Federal 501 (c)(3) charitable organization and as such is eligible to solicit and support charitable causes.
World Hope Foundation
Web design and photos by Cie Stroud are © 2006

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