Natural Science
by Rush

Album: Permanent Waves (1980)
  • When the ebbing tide retreats
    Along the rocky shoreline
    It leaves a trail of tidal pools
    In a short-lived galaxy
    Each microcosmic planet
    A complete society

    A simple kind mirror
    To reflect upon our own
    All the busy little creatures
    Chasing out their destinies
    Living in their pools
    They soon forget about the sea

    Wheels within wheels
    In a spiral array
    A pattern so grand and complex
    Time after time
    We lose sight of the way
    Our causes can't see their effects

    A quantum leap forward
    In time and space
    The universe learned to expand

    The mess and the magic
    Triumphant and tragic
    A mechanized world, out of hand

    Computerized clinic
    For superior cynics
    Who dance to a synthetic band

    In their own image
    Their world is fashioned
    No wonder they don't understand

    Wheels within wheels
    In a spiral array
    A pattern so grand and complex
    Time after time
    We lose sight of the way
    Our causes can't see their effects

    Science, like nature
    Must also be tamed
    With a view towards its preservation
    Given the same
    State of integrity
    It will surely serve us well

    Art as expression,
    Not as market campaigns
    Will still capture our imaginations
    Given the same
    State of integrity
    It will surely help us along

    The most endangered species
    The honest man
    Will still survive annihilation
    Forming a world
    State of integrity
    Sensitive, open and strong

    Wave after wave
    Will flow with the tide
    And bury the world as it does
    Tide after tide
    Will flow and recede
    Leaving life to go on
    As it was Writer/s: Neil Elwood Peart, Gary Lee Weinrib, Alex Zivojinovich
    Publisher: OLE MEDIA MANAGEMENT LP
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Comments: 12

  • Mike from Ottawa, OnNatural Science (for me) has always provided a scientific conscience for progress without restraint. I think that it's always been a concern, globally, that we advance technologically without the proper understanding of the power we have discovered or now wield. Peart's in-sight into that penchant for man's indiscretion, and towards adopting a reckless attitude towards the future, has been a consistent theme in many of his songs. "Science like nature, must also be tamed, with a view toward it's preservation"

    He also tasks the listener to consider "the most endangered species, the honest man" where he will guide us along to redemption.

    He pulls no punches when he describes the effect the the tides have on the microcosms where the only enduring factor is "life itself" and reducing our (humanities) value to the chance or fate of the ebbing tide "leaving life to the one as it was".
  • Arf from Los Angeles, Ca"Wheels within wheels In a spiral array A pattern so grand And complex Time after time We lose sight of the way Our causes cant see Their effects."

    This could be one of two things, yes DNA but the Wheels Within Wheels is also from the Bible:
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    -- Ezekiel 1: 15-17
    1:15
    As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces.

    1:16
    This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel.

    1:17
    As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    No Rush is not going religious but maybe they've seen a UFO?
  • Jason from Florence, Ky"Wheels within wheels In a spiral array A pattern so grand And complex Time after time We lose sight of the way Our causes cant see Their effects."

    The "Wheels within wheels" part is describing how there are increasingly large sets of orbiting objects. Electrons orbit the nucleus of an atom, moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, stars orbit the galaxy center. There may even be larger "wheels" that we can't see because of their scale. Perhaps the universe is orbiting something even larger.

    As for the "Time after time we lose sight of the way" part, it is saying that we just go about our lives not consciously thinking about what we need to do to live. Our causes (our atoms, our cells, our organs, etc. can't see their effects). In the same way, we, as humans, don't know what effects we may be having on the world or the universe.

    This song is epic, especially live.
  • Bret from Coos Bay, OrThe various moods in this song are great. It starts out soft then hits you with a fast pace melody. This song is easily their best on Permanent Waves, and one of my favorites of all time! Songs like Natural Science will always be with me. Rush phucking rules!
  • Mike from Boulder, Co6 is an even number, not odd, hence 6/8 is not odd time. 3/4 is not considered odd time either, (c.f. every waltz ever written)
  • Steve from Annapolis, MdI believe that this song has alot of deep meaning to it it and its objective changes a little throughout the song. In "1. Tide Pools" i believe that the main point being made is how tiny our own little worlds can be. Neil references "each micro-cosmic planet, a complete society" living in these little tide pools "soon forget about the sea". I think that his point is how we get so caught up in our own small world we forget the big picture. Also it is possible that he is making a point that this planet called Earth that we are spinning around on may just be a speck in a tide pool of the sea that is the universe. Brilliant song by a brilliant band.
  • Louis from Glendale, AzTo Adrian:

    The lyrics explain a DNA strand. It's complex, and even with technology, we can't understand it, so our attempts understand it is ludacrous.
  • Adrian from Brantford, On"Wheels within wheels
    In a spiral array
    A pattern so grand
    And complex
    Time after time
    We lose sight of the way
    Our causes cant see
    Their effects."

    May someone explain this piece of lyric from the song. Thank you
  • Josh from Grand Rapids, MiThis is one of my all time favorite Rush songs
  • John from Asheville, NcA real proggy masterwork by Rush. One of my favorites...! Period.
  • Michael from Frederick, MdAbsolutely love Alex's guitar in the "Hyperspace" section... great live song as well.
  • William from Twin Falls, IdI believe this song points out the fact that no matter how scientifically advanced we become, we will never be able to fully tame it. The line "Science, like nature, must also be tamed." means that just because we have discovered or invented some marvelous new technology doesn't mean that we are actually in control of it. The book 2001: A Space Odyssey points this out and I think this song may allude to it. The monolith is placed in 3 different spots, on earth for primitive man, on the moon for our next stage in scientific evolution and then on Jupiter, representing ironically where we virtually are now, studying the potential of visiting and colonizing other planets. The story shows how primitive man touches the first monolith and is bestowed with the intelligence to pick up a bone and use it as a tool. At the end of that act, the bone is tossed into the air and turns to a spaceship, technology sprung from nature. cut to the scene inside and the astronaut loses his pen and becomes the victim of the cosmic powers of space. The simplest of our tools lost to the effect of Nature. We have not tamed it and we can never tame it. The song goes on to say that there's an "ebb and flow" of the natural tide. "Living out their lives in the pools, they soon forget about the sea." The idea of making tools from something we dont understand shows just how infantile we are as a species.
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