House of Science Script

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1962

A writeup of the script for the introductory film for the United States Science Exhibit at the Seattle World’s Fair.
By Charles & Ray Eames


Prologue (Animation)

Much time had passed
and civilization was well established
before man had acquired the leisure and security
necessary for philosophical contemplation.

Technology was already quite developed
and the existing body of information considerable.

It was only then
that the structure of science and philosophy began to emerge.

As he contemplated the world about him,
the natural philosopher asked:

“What is it made of?
“Why this constant change from summer to winter,
motion to rest, life to death?”

Fascinated by the success of accountants and surveyors,
he invented mathematical proof.

Looking at the heavens
and at the records of navigators and calendar makers
he conceived a universe of spheres.

Building on the lore of bone-setters and apothecaries
the philosopher began an exploration of the human body
that extended to the whole living world.

Such was the house of science two hundred years before christ.

Greatly elaborated–
first in the roman world, then in the islamic,
this heritage was transmitted to the medieval scientist.
but great social and technological changes
were rocking the medieval world . . .
increased leisure . . . freedoms

By the time of the renaissance the sciences were being affected

Vesalius shocked medical tradition
studied anatomy from human corpses.
His naturalistic charts of the body laid a foundation for
Harvey’s work on valves and veins.

A revival of European mathematics later led to the calculus.

With an insight of beautiful simplicity
Copernicus reversed the positions of the earth and sun,
Kepler stretched the orbits into ellipses.

Galileo provided laws of motion
which Newton elaborated to cover apples, cannonballs, & planets.

For the first time,
man had reason to view the universe as an infinite machine.

While new ideas had been transforming the established sciences,
new attitudes were producing new sciences,
as learned men, inspired partly by the crafts,
began to systematically study and record
countless facts of everyday life.

The marine compass led them to electricity and magnetism,

alchemy and the chemical crafts to the study of chemical change,

mining and fossils to geology, drugs and herbs to botany.

concern with human anatomy expanded to all of organic life.

By the beginning of the 19th century
practical skills became controlled experiment
and merged with theory
to produce the main branches of modern science.

With increasing vigor–
they themselves began to grow and subdivide.

At this point
science, a subject for the naturally curious,
now became intensely practical as well.
it began to repay its debt to technology.

With this impetus, science began the almost explosive stage of
growth that we are witnessing today.

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Main Body (Live Action)

This is the house of science as it is today.

These are the men that inhabit the house,
that work in it, live in it, build it.

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This is about what scientists look like

and these are the places they do their work.

From the outside
the buildings are about as varied as the scientists themselves–
large and small, young and old.

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On the inside
it is remarkable how many of the laboratories
look exactly as a laboratory should look.

Some have the glassware apparatus and tidiness
of an alchemist’s workshop

Others
have a complexity of instrumentation that is overwhelming.
these are fields that have now become highly specialized.

Their instruments penetrate regions far outside human experience.

But today–as in the past
a laboratory can be many things and many places

It can be a stagnant pool
or the light of the sun, or the sun itself.

The thought of our nearest neighbor as a laboratory
has now become very real
and the space just beyond our earth is almost familiar territory.

The atmosphere
is a dense but thin coat that carries our weather and our winds.
The rain it bears has molded and worked the surface of the land

The crust of the earth
holds fascination and wonder for the scientist.
In it he observes phenomena of his own time
and with equal familiarity
he investigates incidents of ages past.

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It was here in the rich waters of the sea
a billion years ago–
that the rhythms of all life were set–
that all the living things we know had their beginnings.

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When animals or insects
or birds or men live in communities–
then the society they form becomes a laboratory.

In it can be studied
the manner in which a society reacts to change,
the working of its checks and its balances,
the culture and the units of which it is made–
the people.

The objects they make and use are the subject of scientific inquiry
as are their means of expression, their customs and their ideas

The mind of man can be a laboratory

The laboratory can be anywhere that the scientist is drawn to look.

He scrutinizes his world of interest
as carefully as his senses will allow
and as his inquiry becomes more critical
he seeks to extend his natural senses.

The lens is a simple tool
that extends the sense of sight into a realm of smaller things.
The microscope does much the same
but the jump to higher magnification is so spectacular–
it reveals another world–
as varied and complete as the one we see around us.

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The radio telescope
reaches farther into space than anything we have known.
It explores the universe
billions of light years away.

This is exploration in the same old-fashioned sense–
the environment is not always too friendly.

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The sense of time can be altered
by slowing the very fast, or by speeding the very slow
or by catching an instant and holding it

Most sensing devices read directly as measurement

Because its accuracy often determines
the quality of his data
the scientist can be very particular about measurement
and the instruments that do it.

By international agreement,
the standard of linear measurement
is no longer a mark on a stick–
it is not the wave length of light from excited krypton 86.

Other measurements have become about as esoteric

With instruments sensing, measuring, and recording date–
information accumulates at a staggering rate.

A new tool–the electronic computer–
can sift through condense and relate
tremendous amounts of data at such great speed
that complex theories for handling information
become exceedingly practical .

This comes close to the heart of science–
where theories and concepts are the working tools.

With a special kind of curiosity and a sense of elegance
the scientist uncovers hidden relationships
from these and others he builds intellectual constructions.

To help maintain the necessary perspective,
the scientist uses many devices.

He writes himself notes

He builds three dimensional models
to actually experience relationships.

He creates different images of the same concept
to see it in different ways

He writes papers, he delivers papers, he publishes

And he tries his notions on his friends

It would be impossible to tell from the intensity of the discussion whether they are talking about a questionable cosmology
. . . or the proper labeling of a butterfly specimen.

Science is essentially
an artistic or philosophical enterprise–carried on for its own sake.
in this–it is more akin to play than to work.

but it is quite a sophisticated play
in which the scientist views nature as a system of interlocking puzzles.

He assumes that the puzzles have a solution, that they will be fair

He holds to a faith in the underlying order of the universe

His motivation is his fascination with the puzzle itself–
his method a curious interplay between idea and experiment.
His pleasures are those of any artist.

High on the list of prerequisites for being a scientist
is a quality that defines the rich human being
as much as it does the man of science–
that is–
his ability and his desire
to reach out with his mind and his imagination
to something outside himself.