I’d say, well, what does a Bach cantata or a Picasso painting do for us? I think the point is we are human beings, and one of the most wonderful aspect of being human beings is being creative and asking questions and trying to understand our place in the universe. And it is absolutely true that understanding the beginning and end of the universe is not going to produce a better toaster. But I’m always amazed that people – for me, one of the great virtues of science is it’s a cultural activity, like art and literature and music. It enhances the experience of being human, and it addresses the questions that I’m sure you’ve asked about your own existence.

And if we can get new insights into our own existence and our place in the cosmos, well, that’s what happens when we attend a good play or see a good painting. It gives us a new perspective of our place in the universe. And I happen to think that is worth it for its own sake. Plus, I happen to think these ideas are among the most remarkable and astounding ideas human beings have ever come up with. And we owe it to – we scientists owe it to the people to try and explain what’s happening, and I think they enhance the quality of our existence.

The entire interview from NPR Science Friday can be found here.

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