This article offers an essay topic about how literature helped science. There is much useful information in the masterpieces of the world literature.
Interesting Essay Topic: Fiction and Scientific Terms
Scientists are not always serious academics, who talk only about terminology and research; therefore, in strict scientific terminology, it is often possible to find figurative names borrowed from books. It is an interesting topic to write about in your essay. Have you ever imagined what hides behind poetic metaphors? Sometimes, the authors through their texts show characters and events that may help scientists to describe particular disease or phenomenon. Let us review such situations. It will help you to write an interesting essay to amaze your professor.
Alice in the Land of Mental Illnesses
Leaders in the number of literary borrowings are probably psychology and psychiatry, which is not surprising because of the spiritual closeness of these disciplines to art. Many syndromes borrow their names from literary heroes: if a person is obsessed with the idea of always staying young, then he/she has a Dorian Gray’s syndrome; if the patient is prone to pathological stockpiling of completely unnecessary things, the doctor diagnoses him/her with Plyushkin syndrome. The syndrome of “Alice in Wonderland” is less known. People suffering from this disorder, sometimes perceive things proportionally smaller.
They stop to sense the distances: objects seem to them both very far and very close. Sometimes patients feel that the room and even their own bodies have also changed in size, and this painful feeling does not disappear even if the patient closes his/her eyes. Alice syndrome can be caused by completely harmless reasons: children from 5 to 10 years old, suffering from attacks of this disease, as a rule, do not have any deviations. More often syndrome of Alice in Wonderland becomes a symptom of another disease – migraine, epilepsy or severe infections. In addition, it is a frequent companion of drug addicts.
Predictions of Ray Bradbury
In 1952, Ray Bradbury wrote the story ” A Sound of Thunder,” which later became frequently mentioned in the scientific works on the theory of chaos. The plot of the novel tells about a time traveler, who by accident killed a butterfly in the distant past and this radically changed the present time. A little later, the term “butterfly effect” appeared in the scientific terminology, which, however, differs from the phenomenon described by the great American sci-fi writer. The author of the term, Edward Lorenz, asked the question: “Will there be a tornado in Texas if a butterfly wings in Brazil?”
Under this beautiful metaphor, the scientist meant that even the most insignificant change in the initial conditions can change the result in a completely unpredictable manner. However, it is impossible to say whether it works. Flittering Brazilian butterfly can cause a tornado in Texas, can prevent it, or it can cause a rain of fish in Norway – it will not be possible to predict the result. However, in the popular culture, we use the treatment of Bradbury, which irritates some scientists. They believe that the scientific effect of the butterfly, which means a total unpredictability of events in the world, is directly opposed to the phenomenon described in the story “A Sound of Thunder” because the main character predicted some details.
The Lazarus Effect
Two phenomena received the name of the famous biblical character Lazarus from Bethany. This hero is known for the fact that Jesus Christ resurrected him 4 days after his death. The phenomenon (or syndrome) of Lazarus can also be called a resurrection in some way. This is an extremely rare medical phenomenon when a person returns to life a few minutes after cardiac arrest. There are 38 such cases in the world. All patients “died” from various reasons, so the nature of the Lazarus syndrome is very difficult to establish. It is believed that the main reason for such a slow “resurrection” may be the problem in the lung system: the blood circulates slowly, so the heart stops working.
However, the effect of Lazarus is not connected with the resurrection. This term implies the discovery of relict organisms, which, according to scientists, should have disappeared a long ago. This phenomenon occurs more often than the phenomenon of Lazarus and does not cause so many puzzling questions. One of the most famous examples is the ancient fish coelacanth, which feels comfortable near the shores of Indonesia, despite the fact that all the other representatives of its suborder died about 65 million years ago.
Many technical sciences are thankful for the names of the phenomena to sci-fi writers. Isaac Asimov did his best: his passion for robots added the words “robotechnics” and “robotic” to the vocabulary of technical terms. Even such a scientific word as “zero gravity” was originally an artistic fiction. In 1938, the American writer Jack Binder began to publish a series of comics about the future of mankind entitled “If …!” in the sci-fi magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories. One of the issues was called “If scientists reach the core of the Earth,” and there the word combination “zero gravity” appeared; it used to name the absence of gravity in the center of the Earth.
The term “genetic engineering,” attributed to Jack Williamson, was used before the famous American sci-fi writer. In 1951, the novel “Dragon’s Island” was written, in which Williamson used the term “genetic engineering” in its modern sense, but in 1949 this term has been already used in the article on eugenics. Its authors used this term in a completely different meaning, although the idea of changing the hereditary material was also not new. It appeared in less known sci-fi literature, and in science, it was first mentioned in 1946 by Nobel Prize winner Herman Miller, who studied mutations under the influence of X-rays.
The History of The “Quark”
Physicists and mathematicians read not only science fiction. The proof we can find in the history of the term “quark.” Now the quark is known as a fundamental elementary particle, which forms protons or neutrons and ensures their interaction. The author of the theory Murray Gell-Mann found a good name for the particle in a novel that can be mentioned in the list of the most complex pieces of world literature – “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce. In one of the episodes of the novel, there is the phrase “Three quarks for Muster Mark.” Its significance in this context is still a mystery, but Gell-Mann himself believed that the word “quark” is an imitation of the gull cry and the word “quart” (which is not meaningless, since the red line in the novel is an old Irish song about alcoholism). A number 3 perfectly corresponds to the nature of the quark, which has three “colors” and three generations.
Therefore, scientists sometimes refer to the masterpieces of the world literature to seek for inspiration. Of course, there are much more examples than we have described above. You can look for more interesting topics for your essay on our website Find out more