Monday, January 10, 2011

Space is big

My preferred style of writing is not so much writing as it is amended writing with images and videos as food for thought to allow images and ideas to surface in much the same way they do in my mind.  With that, I'm including this video that never fails to bring about my sense of wonder.

This post was prompted by fellow physicist friend who is interested in science journalism and posted the next video on facebook the one I'm about to post.

The blurb for the video talks about NASA's inability to market itself properly and as a result, its funding is cut.  It also explains that funding allocated for media purposes may be cut which would mean lights out.  It seems that if even a fraction of the feeling that drives a researcher to research can be communicated, NASA would have fewer problems and I think the disparity experienced in the scientific community now would be soothed.  So I think it would be very important to find just why and how a researcher researches.

It has always been very clear to me why science is so important.  My love for science has always been about a selfish desire for knowledge.  Of course science is applicable to our society, continually improving the quality of life, and often it is the very ruler with which we measure the progress of our society, but my guess is that the passionate scientists are driven too by a thirst for answers.  They are not separate issues, though.  I think it's true to say that science is a dog-eat-dog community, and that often, scientists work their entire careers toward one big paper to be published, for example, and the struggle between competitors for one shot at notoriety can be brutal.  In this type of conflict, it can be commonplace to protect ideas in fear.  What I'm getting at is that although it may be common to withhold information from one's peers, I think it is a widespread value of scientists to want to share revelations with the world, and that this value does exist despite a selfish desire for knowledge.  Although we want to share our knowledge, the drive comes from within.

As a scientist myself, it is disheartening to learn of funding cuts for programs that to me are so obviously important.  A popular debate towards cutting funding on obviously expensive feats such as space travel and miles-long underground circular particle accelerators is that we could be spending literally billions of dollars on much more poignant things.  Understanding that, yes, it may appear that money spent on expensive international science projects and facilities could be better spent on fixing problems closer to home, cognitively speaking, like hunger or homelessness, money spent on science is spent to nourish curiosity, not to mention technological improvements.  Curiosity, mind you is the driving force behind quality education, behind art, behind much of architecture and in nearly any and every crevice.  This link between science and art which has so much to do with curiosity will be explored further in subsequent posts.