Tree of Wonder

I never quite understood the notion that beauty of nature is diminished when science explains the mechanisms of nature. I understand how people find the scientific method itself boring because they're not inclined to enjoy performing experiments and making observations. But that is a very different thing from saying science makes nature less beautiful by explaining it.

I don't get that. At all.

Just look at a tree. A tall, large tree with a crown of forest green leaves -- a majesty sight especially if contrasted by a lack of trees in the surrounding or smaller trees in the vicinity. The branching patterns in the crown and of the veins in leaves is itself beautiful sometimes very intricate looking. The powerful roots, a part of which spreads visibly above ground -- in urban areas, demonstrate its strength by breaking concrete as its grows larger and thicker. Depending on the time of the year, there may be flowers or fruits -- each adding colour to the crown.

That is beautiful. Visually. A majestic natural object to behold.

Science makes it even more beautiful -- not in your eyes but in your head.

When I look at a tree and contemplate its beauty, its beauty is not skin deep. Visuals is only part of the story. In the back of my head, the science of biology is summoned.

This large majestic tree is a multicellular organism -- a successful coalition of cells. Millions, billions of cells. Each cell as intricate and complex as the other. Each one following instructions laid out in its DNA -- having switched on or off different genes to perform its task in the coalition.

In the leaves, the chloroplasts are photosynthesizing -- the process that gave Earth its oxygenated atmosphere. And these chloroplast, like mitochondria, has its own genome, separate from the plant's own nuclear DNA, having descended from free-living ancestors of cyanobacteria.

This tree is one of the descendants of the primeval cell that started it all. A chain of unbroken parent-child kinship marching back more than 3 billion years. It stands tall on one of the tips of the tree of life where you stand on another. Yes, you're a cousin, a distant cousin of the tree you're looking at. Every single living thing is a cousin of differing degrees.

There is much more to think of but I hope this little description gives those people an inkling of how science beautifies.

There is much beauty, awe and wonder with science than without.