New tricks for old … Learning science at 70

It absolutely drives me nuts how much science that I did and did NOT learn as a young person at an evangelical school in the south. When I got to college, and properly learned about biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, et al, I was astonished at how poorly I was equipped with knowledge.

Worse, those around me still seem to lack any basic knowledge of science outside of their bias for “creationism.” It’s weird. Understandable, because the fog of faith is so thick down yonder. But the oppression of information is so bizarre to me.

This 70 year old former editor of the Economist sat down at 70 and learned what seems so basic, like that he’s a mammal. Check it out!

So far I have found physics relatively straightforward, because (at this level anyway) it has a lot of maths in it. Biology is not far behind, as it seems to be mainly about animals and plants. But chemistry, always mysterious to me, is pure revelation. It is making me look at so many everyday phenomena with far more interest and, yes, even understanding. A few weeks ago my tutor, John Harris, handed me a proper white overall and we spent a happy hour in his kitchen mixing acids and alkalis with the juice from a cooked red cabbage. Elementary stuff, but to me it felt like grown-up research.

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