70 years of science & 70 years of CC

Since we are celebrating 70 years of Calvinist Contact/Christian Courier, I thought I would provide a very personal list of scientific (broadly defined) highlights (good and bad) from the last 70 years.

       1947 (CC was 2): The transistor was discovered/developed, leading to modern electronics such as the personal computer in about 1960 and smart phones today.
       1950: The birth control pill was being developed. Its commercialization in the 1960s changed family planning and is considered partly responsible for the sexual revolution.
       1951: The H-bomb was exploded and is still making the political situation more complicated today.
       1951: The first anti-psychotic drug, thorazine/chlorpromazine, revolutionized psychiatry, and was followed by many more drugs including Prozac/fluoxetine in 1970.
       1953: The DNA molecule was characterized by Watson and Crick, leading ultimately to the mapping of the human genome in 2001 and the full genetic revolution. As I started to discuss in my column last month, these developments have led to the ability to modify specific sections of our DNA using the CRISPR-Cas9 system.
       1957: Sputnik 1 was launched by the Soviet Union, followed in 1961 by the first human space flight, the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, and the current International Space Station, which was first occupied in November of 2000.
       1960: The laser was developed, and it has become a tool in much modern technology from printers to check-out-machines in stores.
       1962: Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, which described the harmful effects of pesticides like DDT and launched the environmental movement.
       1961/1963: Lorenz/Mandelbrot popularized a branch of mathematics called Chaos theory, pointing out that in many systems very, very small differences in the initial conditions led to completely different outcomes (e.g., the butterfly in China changing our weather effect).
       1965: Kandel started work demonstrating the biology of memory in simple neural systems in the Aplysia california (a large sea slug).
       1974: Lucy, the very complete skeleton of an Australopithecus Afarensis, was uncovered, taking her place in a line of skeleton remains argued by many to be our ancestors. The most recent addition to this line was discovered earlier this year in a cave in South Africa: the as-yet undated Homo Naledi.
       1979: Small Pox was eradicated in humans. In 2015, we are close to eradicating Polio.
       1989: The World Wide Web was launched, providing access to all sorts of information that can be used to check a column like this.
       1996: Dolly the sheep was cloned from a single cell.
       2015: Canadian Arthur McDonald shares the Nobel prize in Physics for showing that Neutrinos oscillate and have mass.

These developments in science are listed as individual items or threads of connected discoveries, but they all speak to the revolutionary public impact of science on our lives.
In its 70 years, Christian Courier has not had as profound a public impact, but in our Christian community it has had a significant private impact, I would argue, stretching, challenging and protecting our Christian faith. I would not want to compare the relative impact of this paper and science in my life, but I know that my faith and my awareness of God would be weaker without my biweekly CC. Praise the Lord for this gift to our community.

  • Rudy Eikelboom is a Professor of Psychology, at Wilfrid Laurier University, who has emerged from the dark side of the University after being department chair for 9 years and now teaches behavioural statistics to graduate and undergraduate psychology students. His retirement looms and he is looking forward to doing more writing on the implications of modern science for our Christian faith. Currently, he serves as a pastoral elder at the Waterloo Christian Reformed Church.

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