lie hidden and unacknowledged beneath

The excitement of discovery cannot be bought, or faked, or learned from books (though learning always helps). It is am emotion which must have developed from mankind’s earliest days as a conscious animal, similar to the feeling when prey had successfully been stalked, or a secret honeycomb located high in a tree. It is one of the most uncomplicated and simple joys, although it soon becomes mired in all that other human business of possessiveness and greed. But the discovery of some beautiful new species laid out on a stony bed provokes a whoop of enthusiasm that can banish frozen fingers from consideration, and make a long day too short. It is not just the feeling that accompanies curiosity satisfied-it is too sharp for that; it arises not from that rational part of the mind that likes to solve crosswords, but from the deep unconscious. It hardly fades with the years. It must lie hidden and unacknowledged beneath the dispassionate prose of a thousand scientific papers, which are, by convention, filleted of emotion. It is the reason why scientists and archaeologists persist in searches which may even be doomed and unacknowledged by their fellows.

Richard Fortney, Life: a natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth, Random House, 1997, p.13


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