Are you a high school student looking for some inspiration? Perhaps a philanthropist who has a little extra cash to throw around, if only you could find a worthy cause? Why not pursue or support something genuinely worthwhile: science.
When one thinks of a scientist, they often picture a slightly eccentric man with frizzy white hair, a lab coat, and a non-existent social life. Perhaps they never encountered Doc Brown. There was a time though when young people of an entire generation dreamed of someday being scientists and didn’t scoff at the kid who worked hard in physics class, because he might be the kid who grows up to build a spaceship that would take them all to a distant planet and they didn’t want to be left out. Perhaps these dreams were fueled by an abundance of 1950s science fiction B-movies or the wonderment of the Apollo missions of the 1960s. Nowadays, it seems the study of science is a dying interest among young people. This is frightening considering it is perhaps the most important vocation that humankind must pursue in order to continue our existence and prevent what will otherwise be our inevitable self-destruction, because we are ignorant, selfish mammals completely undeserving of our cognitive abilities.
If only people’s undying passion for reality television or sports or religion could be replaced with a passion for science. After all, there have been wars in the name of a god or gods for thousands of years, but we’ve never seen a war waged because one group of scientists believed Pluto to be a planet and others did not (although it came close to a full-out riot among us unscientific folk who nostalgically swear that Pluto is still a planet, even if we’re have no idea why it was declassified in the first place).
I’ve always been slightly bitter that, as much as I love and appreciate the sciences and enjoy reading about evolutionary biology and half-lifes and binary pulsars, I’ve never had the mind for it. In an alternate universe, I’d be there alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on his StarTalk theorizing on the stability of of anisotopic stellar systems… or, you know, calculating stuff that science-y people calculate. But alas, it was never meant to be. So, I envy those whose brains are capable, while I just sift through crap that’s already happened and provide interpretations of events and people who are all dead and can’t defend themselves or their actions or the events surrounding their lives.
Science is knowledge. Knowledge is key to everything. Thankfully, while a decade ago science-oriented majors had fallen dramatically, the numbers are now rising again worldwide – albeit slowly. Whether we as adults, parents, and educators instill a love for the stars, an interest in molecules, or even a fascination with human nature among young people today, science in the name of progress needs to make a comeback. Don’t let your child settle. Get them engaged in a science fair while they’re young, make sure it is fun enough that when they are thinking about college, they think, “Gee, this would be fun, interesting, and beneficial to our world.” And indeed, that’s the first step to a better world.
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