by Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle Science Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Ech," gurgled Miss Pefko emptily. "I take diction from Dr. Horvath and it's just like a foreign language. I don't think I'd understand—even if I was to go to college. And here he's maybe talking about something that's going to turn everything upside-down and inside-out like the atom bomb.["] (15.14)
The novel's other concern about science is that those without the necessary training can't make heads-or-tails of all the discoveries. Miss Pefko's example is funny, but what happens when the discovery is an atomic bomb and those who can't understand the consequences are the leaders of entire countries? Now, that's something completely different.
"Magic," declared Miss Pefko. "I'm sorry to hear a member of the Laboratory family using that brackish, medieval world," said Dr. Breed. (16.10-11)
The novel plays with Arthur C. Clarke's notion that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (Source). Unless you know the science behind it, it might as well be magic to you. Just take a microwave oven back to the middle ages and see if you aren't worshipped as a god—or, you know, burned at the stake.
"Dynamite money," I marveled, thinking of the violence of dynamite and the absolute repose of a tombstone and a summer home. (32.8)
Here's a subtle reference to that chain of consequences we mentioned. Alfred Nobel creates dynamite, and his invention kills millions of people. So, he creates the Nobel Peace Prize to promote peace, which is then given to the man who kills thousands more by helping to create the atomic bomb. That man uses the money to give his family a nice summer home. It's consequences upon consequences upon consequences.