Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lucy and Iranian Youth

One of our days in Addis was spent at the National Museum. It’s not big and fancy like the Met or something. But is houses the bones of Lucy, thought to be the oldest, nearly complete set of ‘nearly’ human bones.

I’m not terribly articulate at what I think of carbon dating and the age of things like Lucy found in archeological digs. But oddly enough I was reading a book on the trip that used an example of someone presenting an ancient sculpture to a museum for sale. Every curator that saw it knew in an instant that it wasn’t right. But 14 months of testing proved it to be the correct age of such sculptures. It had a patina on it that could only come with the aging of thousands of years, or so they thought.

It turned out that all the curators gut reactions were right. And some kind of potato mold could create the same patina in a relatively short time. I don’t understand the science. But it makes me confident that what other expert tests are sure of, could be very wrong.

On the shuttle to the Lalibela Airport I was seated next to a young business man from Iran. He was in a chatty mood and so I let him lead a conversation. He asked if I believed in evolution. I gave a minimal opinion which only fueled his about how the youth of his country are starting to side in favor of evolution and science which in turn in causing quite a stir in the religious circles there.

I tried my level best to help him see that even scientists can be wrong, and even they need ‘faith’ to close the gaps in their work. But he was sticking to his beliefs in the area of evolution.
Lucy is a little creepy, and so were some of her friends in the basement of the National Museum.

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