Malicorne – Earthly Reflections of an Astrophysicist – Hubert Reeves, 1994


Photo credit: `James Wheeler via / CC BY-NC-SA

Published in 1994 by Stoddardt Publishing Co. Limited

The Laws of the Sky and of Atoms 

 p.147    “As a child, I often heard people talking about the law.  There were several lawyers in my family.  These discussions held little interest for me.  They seemed futile and petty.  There was more to life, I thought, than problems of common wills or inheritances.

     The peaceful world of stars, the mysteries of atoms and molecules were much more attractive to me than the twists and turns of endless hair-splitting administrative procedure.  The eternal laws, universal and inviolable, that govern the movements of planets and electrons seemed infinitely more worthy of attention than human laws, changeable, regional, and, in practice, constantly violated.

     Thinking about the subject in the light of modern astrophysics, I’ve come to revise my position.  To appreciate the role of human legislation in the management of the cosmos, I first had to acknowledge a basic attribute of nature:  complexity.  In parallel with the “infinitely small” of atoms and the “infinitely large” of life.  It’s in this sphere that, despite its flaws and vicissitudes, human jurisprudence finds its justification and pertinence.”

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