The covid vaccine, James Webb telescope and AlphaFold protein predictor make a case for optimism
The Thunderbolt Kid is one of the best books by Bill Bryson. It describes his life growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, and has this unforgettable opening line: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to." As I reread it, what shone out was the sheer optimism of small-town America and the world in those years. Science and technology had seen the West triumph and there was unalloyed enthusiasm for technology as the means to make humanity happy and prosperous. The atom had been tamed, automobiles rolled down highways, humans were eyeing the Moon, vaccines had fought deadly diseases, and supply chains and industries had brought the world’s bounty to our doorsteps. Science and technology would make us conquer the world, space and even death itself.
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