With chapters on: Rachel Carson, Charles A. Coulson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Arthur S. Eddington, Albert Einstein, Ronald A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Pascual Jordan, Robert A. Millikan, Ivan P. Pavlov, Michael I. Pupin, Abdus Salam, Edward O. Wilson
Edited By Nicolaas A. Rupke
MARK STOLL Rachel Carson (1907-64) 47
Rachel Carson The Presbyterian Genesis of Silent Spring MARK STOLL "Who has known the ocean?" With this question, U.S. government biologist Rachel Carson (1907-64) opened her first public literary publication, "Undersea," in Atlantic Monthly in 1937. Carson's answer to it in this short but poetic piece in- cluded many of the leitmotifs of her later writings, including the revolu- tionary Silent Spring. A summary for the layman of scientific knowledge of the oceans, "Undersea" described the vast, mysterious, eternal world of the sea, in which its elements circulated, appearing, dissolving, and reap- pearing according to a "plan," "in a kind of material immortality." Even though "chief, perhaps, among the plunderers is man," who could know and disturb only its edges and uppermost regions, man' s most appropriate response to the sea was to wonder at its enigmatic watery portion of our planet (Carson 1937, 4, 11, 6). "Who has known Rachel Carson?" is a question equally apt. The sea can also serve as a metaphor for the reserved, intensely private Carson herself. Upon it most of her life and work was centered. The sea was the subject of her scientific research, the topic of most of her writing (in- cluding three prizewinning bestsellers), as well as her neighbor at her seaside summer cabin in Maine, and she so often identified with its crea- tures with sympathetic imagination. Like the ocean, beneath whose sur- face lay a vast world mostly unknown to observers, Carson's normally placid public face hid a very...
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