“The intersection of science and literature is what can save us.”

Carmen Estrada (Seville, 1947) She devoted her life to teaching and worked as a researcher at the City of Hope Neuroscience Institute and at UCLA, but when she retired she decided to follow her dream and study philology, giving her curriculum an exceptional perspective. With his first book, OdysseyHe highlighted the role of women in The Odyssey. In his work, Eve's legacyIt takes us to a valuable essay on how the encounter between science and the humanities has been the driving force of our civilization. In April, Planeta Comics will be published Illustrated Odysseywith his translation of this classic.

-What is science?

I like a definition of science that is much broader. I see science as a way of looking at the natural world and trying to understand it without creating a story about it, but starting from our lack of knowledge. Trying to discover what we can discover, with great patience, cumulatively, over the centuries, in a collective mission for that part of humanity that feels that curiosity and that desire to look at the world in that way. Look at it through the limitations of our intelligence, but try to take advantage of everything that intelligence can deduce.

– How do you approach this? Eve's legacy?

– I intend to generate a vision of the world that is as close to reality as possible.

-Are we more humane or more scientific?

-(He laughs). I think there is a big divorce between people who devote themselves to the humanities and those who devote themselves to science. There are many scholars who have greater access to the humanities because they love music, cinema and literature, but people who devote themselves to the humanities do not have this access because there are no scholarly activities. Then I realized that in arts colleges they had an idea of ​​science as something very strange, very strange, very dry. Many people enter literature escaping science, but almost no one enters science escaping literature. Science is seen as the preserve of privileged or privileged people, and that is what I would try to avoid.

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– Sometimes you avoid specialization.

-Clear. Studying science does not mean devoting yourself to everything related to science. When you work in science, if you have a question about physics, ask the physicists, and if you have a question about mathematics, ask the mathematician. There is a lot of ignorance in general about what science is. Watching a talk on a scientific topic can be entertaining, and not just for a privileged few. Science is a basic human activity that has been around since the beginning of the species and can be approached by anyone.

Where will the intersection between science and humanities be?

-I've always been into science, but at the same time, I've been curious about other things that aren't science. Science and philosophy were born together. What an easier meeting than that! It has recently happened that science has separated from philosophy and joined technology. In the Greek world there were sages and technicians. The sages were committed to expressing thought, interpreting the world, reasoning, debating, and writing, and the technicians were the craftsmen, who devoted their efforts to solving practical matters. Now we say humanities and sciences with technology, meaning that science has now slipped into becoming part of the technologists. In the end it's very similar.

-in Odyssey There was Homer and Penelope, and now Adam and Eve. Do myths shape our reality?

-There was no society without myths. Myths follow one another. At the moment we do not have the Greek gods, but we have the myth of progress, the myth of endless growth, the myth of the importance of appearance,… We humans tend to explain the world with those myths or we can do so. This is by realizing our limitations and trying to scratch the surface of things to get to the bottom.

“There was no society without myths. They follow one another and have many interpretations.”

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-Eva's gesture as she eats the apple emulates the three stages of scientific work: curiosity, knowledge acquisition, and transmission…

-I think myths have many interpretations. They are free, that is, they have the ability to be interpreted in different ways depending on the society in which they communicate. Both Eve in the Judeo-Christian civilization and Pandora in the Greek civilization are cursed women, guilty of all the evils of humanity. This is what the misogynistic interpretation suggests. What Pandora did was keep hope in the jar, as it was her legacy to humanity, and what Eve did was seek knowledge and pass it on to us. One gave us hope and the other gave us knowledge. It is a way to combine science and humanity as the only way to reconcile ourselves with today's world. The situation is very bleak because we have increasingly plundered the planet and consumed more and more raw materials. Science is what provides knowledge of the disaster and, at the same time, what can provide how to treat it, but it is the moral and ethical aspect of how to organize society and respond to that emergency, which is provided by the humanities, so it is only the confluence of both forms of knowledge that can save us. We must change our way of life if we simply want to survive as a species and for the world to remain as it was.

– His working life was devoted to science, but after his retirement he studied Greek philology. Do you feel like you have a debt to pay?

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– I remember the pain and sadness I felt when I had to make a decision at the age of 14 when choosing high school. If I choose literature I will never be able to do science, but if I choose science I will be able to do literature, and the truth is that I was not wrong. When I stopped working, I said, “Now is my time.” Greece was the root cause of much of what happened in our civilization.

In your work, you have analyzed the role of women in science.

-There were few female scientists, but when I met them, I highlighted their efforts. Now they have more access and there is no turning back.

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