As you would have read, the Chinese moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, landed on the moon in December 2013 and we are now receiving photographs from the rover. From previous posts on this blog you would know that I am keen on space exploration and doubly so on countries such as China, India, Brazil and others taking on such challenging missions.
Another reason why I really like the Jade Rabbit mission is the name itself. Call me a romantic, but I love the fact that the Jade Rabbit is named after the pet of the Chinese lunar goddess, Chang’e (or so I believe). There is something rather lovely about naming a space probe in honour of the goddess who according to myth lives on that very celestial body. Plus the words jade rabbit in themselves are evocative. They make me think of jade (gorgeous green) and rabbits. I immediately picture a piece of jade beautifully carved to represent a rabbit. Either way my mind sees beauty.
This connection of Science with beauty and aesthetics is not always to be found easily. One of my gripes is that many science departments/labs are often housed in hideous buildings. Either these are concrete piles, ugly and unappealing, or often modern and futuristic buildings all steel and chrome and very little soul. I haven’t often seen science buildings featuring offices and labs well lit with natural light (big windows where are you?), plenty of greenery and plants in and near the buildings, art on the walls or on the premises. To me Science is creative and beautiful, as artistic and aesthetic as an activity can be. So I wonder, would not scientists respond well to being surrounded by art, by beauty?