The virus is a reminder of something lost long ago
MIT Professor Alan Lightman in The Atlantic
Graphic by Alex Merto via The Atlantic
MIT professor Alan Lightman writes that the pandemic may force "many of us to slow down, to spend more time in reflection, away from the noise and heave of the world. With more quiet time, more privacy, more stillness, we have an opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and as a society." "
— Alan Lightman, Professor of the Practice of the Humanities
EXCERPT | APRIL 1, 2020
"Around the year 1600, the weather in much of Europe substantially cooled, in the latter phase of what has been called the Little Ice Age. In all, it lasted 300 years. Winters were brutally cold and summers were damp and chilly, greatly curtailing the growing season. Crops failed. People starved. But the change in weather forced English, French, and Dutch fishermen to build improved boats, capable of following fish farther to the west and surviving long trips through the rough seas. Undoubtedly, some of that new boat-building craft led to the ships of today.
"Innovation often arises in periods of adversity. In recent weeks, we have seen such welcome invention germinating in the horrendous crisis of the coronavirus. Consider, for example, the many new platforms for online teaching, or the use of cheap Bluetooth smart thermometers able to transmit a person’s fever and geolocation to a distant database, or members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing together and apart from 29 different locations using their smartphones.
"In bad times, innovation can occur in habits of mind as well as in new technologies. The frightening Covid-19 pandemic may be creating such a change now — by forcing many of us to slow down, to spend more time in personal reflection, away from the noise and heave of the world. With more quiet time, more privacy, more stillness, we have an opportunity to think about who we are, as individuals and as a society."