Science and changing the world

Posted Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 11:47am

This will be the first of a long series of articles covering scientific topics with the intention of not only to educate on basic scientific ideas, but to inspire the mind and enrich students’ academic experience here at USU Eastern.

Science has never intended to be controversial, but when you rattle the cage of ignorance, you’re almost sure to have backlash. Once in a great while, something slips through and if we’re lucky, changes the world. As I brainstormed topics I came across an article in a tattered copy of “Popular Science” entitled “Bill Fights Back.”

The article details my childhood hero, Bill Nye, as he prepares for a debate with the Creation Museum founder Ken Ham. What could Bill Nye be teaching that he would debate someone over, I knew I didn’t need to ask, of course it was the standard scientific laws, theories and principles plate tectonics, radiometric dating, and the cause of most science anxiety in Americans: evolution.

Since the beginning of recorded history, scientists sought understanding through evidence and experimentation and met with animosity and death, simply for daring to ask questions and report their findings. In its essence that’s all science is, make an observation, ask a question then devise a way to find the answer. What a beautiful notion. While each of Bill’s points contains libraries full of information, I could write best about each individual one in a separate article, observing the works of Newton, Bohr, Sagan, Darwin, Lyle and so many others who changed our understanding of the cosmos around us.

With that plan in mind, let’s tackle them one by one by exploring their mysteries and exciting truths. This column is not opinion nor political, just science, pure wonderful glorious science.

I view these series of articles as a journey we are taking together, to discover the mysteries of life, to probe the question of our existence, to understand our significance and nobody has said it better than Neil Degrasse Tyson, “To make this journey we’ll need imagination, but imagination alone is not enough. Because the reality of nature is far more wondrous than anything we can imagine. This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules. Test ideas by experiment and observation. Build on those ideas that pass the test, reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads and question everything. Accept these terms and the cosmos is yours.”

As you embark at the beginning of your academic careers, you may travel any path that may inspire you, whether it be business, philosophy, health care, science, music or any number of specialized trades but the challenge given you by scientist that came before us remains the same. Be curious, engage your mind, expand your field, learn all you can, don’t be afraid to change your opinion when presented with new evidence, but most of all don’t be afraid to change the world. After all, Bill Nye can’t do it all on his own. Let’s change the world.

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