The bottom shelf will represent the past. The shelf, though brown, is of a duller shade than the upper shelf. It is worn and splintered. Though old, the shelf is sturdy. It represents the foundation upon which the future shall forever rely. The bottom shelf contains, from left to right, a leather bound volume describing the Phoenician Alphabet, an abacus standing upright, an oversized computer mouse, and an old rabbit-eared antennae. The alphabet represents our ability to memorialize and to classify information; the abacus represents the evolution of our ability to calculate using technological innovation; the oversized computer mouse represents our ability to transfer remote persons into vast seas of information; and, the rabbit-eared antennae represents the ability to coordinate disparate scientific technologies for unified objectives-- it symbolizes reception or past successes.
The top shelf will represent the future. It is wooden, too, but in the middle it is nearly transparent. The edges are varnished and a bright shade of brown. The transparency symbolizes looking into the future. This shelf will have a sculptured facial bust of an unknown person, a golden pillar with a clear glass of water on top, and a computer with legs. The objects on the upper shelf are intentionally vague. This vagueness is deliberate; indeed, it is suggesting that science can be unpredictable and surprising. The bust of the unknown person represents one person and everyone; the golden pillar and the clear glass of water represent the reality that fundamentals are too often forgotten; and, finally, the computer with legs represents the likelihood of increasing ethical and moral dilemmas as science advances. Ethics must keep pace with technological development. A race metaphor seems suitable.
I am clothed in a loincloth. The reason is that despite the complexities, science is in many ways quite simple and rationale. Finding the answers may not be simple, but the laws discovered often dispel less rational myths or proffered explanations. To this end, fancy or excessive dress would cloak the quest for purity in scientific exploration. The scientist should be unbiased, devoted, and unpretentious. The nakedness is intended to symbolize this purity.
Finally, I stand upon no floor; more accurately, I am levitating atop of billowy clouds. The notion is that science can help us to transcend ourselves. Science can improve our lives, and it can lift us up materially and spiritually. Aspiring to scientific achievement is a noble cause.
To have as my college roommate an individual comparable to Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim" would be a great blessing. In a world where objectivity too often dampens the passionate embers of exploration, where thinking inside of the box is deemed professionally safer than taking intellectual chances, it would be quite advantageous in my view to have as a roommate a person knowledgeable about standard conventions while simultaneously being willing to ignore conventions in pursuit of romantic ideals or theories.
Lord Jim was described by Conrad as passing "away as under a cloud, inscrutable at heart, forgotten, unforgiven, and excessively romantic. Not in the wildest days of his boyish visions could he have seen