Bracewell’s Last Interview: Have Scientists Died Out?

Dr. Ronald Bracewell gave his last interview during the destruction of the Bracewell Observatory at Stanford University (March 10, 2006).

Bracewell was a renowned radio astronomer and also Lewis M. Terman Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus of the Space, Telecommunications and Radioscience Laboratory at Stanford University. He was an avid SETI enthusiast and played an important role in developing planet hunting techniques like nulling interferometry. He coined the term “Bracewell Probe” for autonomous interstellar space probes to communicate between alien civilizations.

Bracewell was not one to participate in the dogma of institutional authority and honors.

“All I can think to say is that people do not notice what they see every day. We are not observant by nature. We are not like scientists who try to reason out what to do next. Genetically, we are programmed to grow up and do what we’re told and the proves to be the way to have success in reproducing your kind. If a 10 year-old boy sees a mushroom growing out there same as they had last night for dinner and he rushes out, picks it, and comes back – his mother will slap him and say drop it! He’s trying to be a scientist. He’s exercising his curiosity to find out knowledge for himself rather than gaining knowledge from an experienced elder.  Kids like that died out. We do not have a driving scientific curiosity. Hardly anyone is a scientist and it’s hard to teach them. But it’s very important for us these days.”

Photo: Courtesy of Bob Lash and the Friends of the Bracewell Observatory Association

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Bob Lash and the Friends of the Bracewell Observatory Association, source BigEar.org

 

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