The Break-up: America ends it with Science
All over this beautiful country of ours, awkward dinner parties are being held. People are sharing drinks, engaging in cliché small talk about sporting events or their children — “Can you believe it? Little Timmy is already playing with blocks and counting to 20!”
What you’re unlikely to hear, however, is any scientific debates or general conversations on the topic of science. (No, my millennial friends, app-talk doesn’t qualify) Why is this the cause of this, the lack of science curiosity and talk.
Since the early 1960’s, the U.S. divorce rate has hovered around 50%. The latest casualty of that reality is America’s loving relationship with science, scientific curiosity, and scientific truth.
Yes, it’s awful but true, America and Science have decided to get a divorce.
The good news is, they did make it last longer than Britney Spears and the back-up dancer she married in Vegas. It’s a sad day that anyone splits up, of course. How do you decided where the kids will live? What about the family pets? And what else. Are you going to have two Netflix accounts now??!! Regardless, thru it all, many people find a way to rekindle their relationship. Especially if they can just remember what it was that made them fall in love with each other in the first place. America and Science then too, most recall, and hold dear their happier times — the good memories.
What kid doesn’t remember that 1st science project, back in grammar school. What was it? A model of the solar system? A volcano? Some sort of magnet display? When did you first begin to think Science was “cute,” to wonder about its glow, its magic? Think about it. It’s like the first time you developed that crush as a child, playing in sandbox or during lunch time. This is a happy moment to keep. It is during this time, adolescence, that American youth from Long Island to the Golden Gate Bridge first see Science as a potential life partner.
What other times in this happy marriage sparked a fondness between these two sweethearts? How about how about science heroes? I can still picture the Albert Einstein poster on my brother’s closet. That iconic hair of Einstein. The formula (E = mc2). The quotes: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,” “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” For some, perhaps it was Ben Franklin and that kite. For many, Afro-American scientist, George Carver, was one to admire. Black and white Americans of all ages loved Dr. Carver for his different approach to science — the peanut experiments being the most famous. Women and little girls alike looked up to Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space. As a six-year old I, of course, truly believed that I was in love with famous Dr. Mae Jemison. She was Helen of Troy, only she traveled by a different type of ship. She was the first Afro-American woman in space, but I still lovingly referred to her as ‘Mae”. Darwin, Newton, and Galileo are three other titans of scientific truth, deities almost. Held up not for us to worship but as symbols of enlightenment, like a wedding ring is a symbol of marriage. They, along with the other heroes of science, would likely have had twitter followings in millions back in their day. Remember those great people, the joy they represent — A bright spot in a great relationship.
Another reason for hope? Silicon Valley. America may no longer be in love with Science, but America does love technology though, even if only as it relates to consumer products. (Are you not on Tinder, swiping right>?!) Technology moves only forward, not backwards. So yes, the robots from Terminator 2 are coming! This could be that made-up reason people use to ‘run into’ their ex, the thing that sparks a reconciliation between America and Science. Be it fending off the pending Robot attack, or a change in our collective-conscious view of the internet as more than just a vehicle to tweet about how great orange juice is after a night of binge drinking, our two love birds may be brought together again due to technology.
According to the National Student Clearing House, only 15% of the bachelor degrees in 2013–14 academic year were from the hard sciences (no, psych majors, we don’t count you!). The numbers are even worse for math and computer science major. In 2013, A Georgetown University report estimated that by the year 2020, Science and Technology occupations will increase by about 25 percent. It goes without saying that we must continue to focus on educating and graduating our science majors. However, above all, we must revive the childhood charm of math, science, and measuring the unknown.
America is single, and now fascinated with sowing its wild oats. It a new love in spreading democracy and gender equality — all noble pursuits. Let me ask this question though, have you ever seen a poor man preaching economic prudence? If we truly wish to be world leaders, perhaps we should focus first on the Homefront, renewing our marriage, actually not leaving a child (of science) behind.