“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” ― Carl Sagan
I plead guilty to that! Or maybe not.
On my list of things I find fascinating, my impulse would be to place “science and technology” near the bottom. Actually, though, I’ve always enjoyed learning about it. In my immediate family, my experience with computer technology is far ahead that of my husband or sons; sort of a stereotype-buster. And I’ve always been interested in learning how things work. As a kid, I would take apart broken watches and toys to figure out why they stopped running. So I guess being analytical is not too far removed from enjoying science or technology.
I don’t know anyone who ever went to San Francisco without at least seeing (if not riding) the justly famous cable cars, which are one of only two moving landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places. Relatively few take advantage of the free admission to the Cable Car museum, where I snapped the photo above.
One day when I was riding the Powell-Hyde line I heard a tourist ask the gripman, “What makes the cable cars run?” He smiled and answered “Cables!” It sounds too simple, but the actual machinery that is visible at the museum validates that answer. The muscles of the gripmen and the incredible strength of the cables — one for each line — pull thousands of people each day (over seven million each year) up and down the steep hills of San Francisco.
One of the first science lessons I remember is “What is a machine?” The cable cars are a great example of a relatively simple machine that provides an easily understood introduction to technology for the science-impaired such as I. What are some of the simple or complex machines on which you depend every day? When I ask myself that question, I come up with a whole new list of things for which I’m grateful. I hope you will do the same.