This is Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Steve Mirsky. Got a minute?
"It was destined to be the mother of machines."
The "it" Daniel Boorstin talks about in his 1983 book The Discoverers is the clock.
Boorstin, who served as the director of the National Museum of History and Technology of the Smithsonian Institution went on to write,
"The clock broke down the walls between kinds of knowledge, ingenuity, and skill, and clockmakers were the first consciously to apply the theories of mechanics and physics to the making of machines¡ clockmakers became the pioneer scientific-instrument makers."
It's therefore particularly ironic that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed got yanked out of his Texas 9th grade classroom September 14th, handcuffed, interrogated, and eventually suspended, for having brought to school a clock he'd built himself.
Because the adults present thought it could be a bomb.
Hey, it was ticking, wasn't it, this recapitulation of the work that helped make the modern, science-driven world?
Of course, things have worked out okay.
Mohamed is going to transfer to a less easily startled school, the President invited him to the White House and he's been asked to attend the Google Science Fair taking place during the next few days in California.
Scientific American is one of the sponsors.
Back to Boorstin.
He concludes his 1973 book The Americans: the Democratic Experience, with these lines:
"The atomic bomb along with the space adventure and a thousand lesser daily demonstrations, the automobile and the airplane, radio and television, computer technology and automation, and the myriad products of Research and Development were showing that the 'advance' of science and technology¡ would control the daily lives of Americans."
Unless, that is, they give way to fear. Tick tock.
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Steve Mirsky.