Learning from Gardens - outdoor science

"Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe...
As we penetrate into matter, nature
...appears as a complicated web of relations
between the various parts of the whole.”

~ Fritjof Capra,  The Tao of Physics

Such musings on the nature of the universe sound like what an ecological minded gardener might say.

All you have to do is look at a backyard garden and see the microcosm of the interdependent web of animals, plants and microbes that has evolved over eons. Just as Capra was describing.

So it makes sense then, as we gear up for commercial space travel and life,
that NASA scientists call our world "a self contained....microcosm..."

(photo by Jan Johnsen, Johnsen Landscapes & Pools)

Sounds like a garden to me…..

But there is so much of our interwoven tapestry that the NASA  ‘Bioregenerative Life Support Project’ misses.  They use machines to replicate our world.

Perhaps if a science minded person spent an hour in a garden, away from a lab, they could exchange, if only for an hour, a bioreactor tank for a pile of leaves, some purified water for a babbling stream.

 This advice to experience nature directly is as old as human culture itself. 

 Alan Watts lauds this approach and credits its impact on ancient Chinese science by noting that,

“The Taoists contributed far more to Chinese science than the Confucians, for whereas the latter had their noses in books and were concerned with the following of rules, the former were observers of nature.

Taoist literature abounds with comments on the behavior of animals, insects, reptiles, plants, wind, water and the heavenly bodies…”

(Alan Watts, Tao: The Watercourse Way, p.119). 

(photo by Jan Johnsen)

So maybe scientists should take a meditative stroll and watch how Nature answers their questions before they even ask them.


  1. Nature is really just science, but the kind of super complex science that it's probably we'll never fully understand, kind of like how we don't understand how the brain works!


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