Ready for a quiz? Is the following news report true or false? A famous explorer just returned from his latest expedition with shocking news. He has located a remote and isolated island culture that generates electricity using the heat from nuclear reactors. What astounded him was that these islanders who had mastered nuclear and electrical technology were primitive in all other ways. They created electricity but used it only for lighting fires. They had no knowledge of medication, artificial fabrics, or transportation. They had no electrical appliances in their kitchens. In fact, they had no kitchens. They cooked outside their huts over wood fires that they ignited from huge electrical sparks obtained from their nuclear power plants. Well, what do you say? True or false?
Oh yes, I know you answered, “False,” but did you mean that you considered the story highly improbable or are you certain that it’s demonstrably untrue? The story is not only improbable but also impossible. The explorer is a fraud. There is an inevitable sequence to scientific discovery. No culture has or ever will discover the secrets of atomic structure before they understand the chemistry of the periodic table. Once people have probed the secrets of magnetism, the discovery of electricity will inevitably follow quite quickly.