Throughout elementary and middle school, I was captivated by my science classes, eager to understand the complex mechanisms of the world surrounding me. Scientific principles led me to be rational and to question everything. I embraced the fact that there is much I do not know and was in turn excited to explore the universe.
As I moved on to high school, I found that there is still much that science does not know. Day in and day out, researchers continue to push the boundaries of the quantum and galactic levels.
Humanity is still so young. We cannot even conceive how technology will change our species over the next million years – a melancholy thought for those, like me, who want to be there to experience it.
I was instantly drawn into the scientific community by its commitment to truth, rich history, and open-mindedness. However, by surrounding myself with the scientifically-minded, I found myself bubbled-in. I was blind to a different view of science – one that often did not understand it and was sometimes frightened by it. Not everyone saw science the way I did, a vital undertaking that has brought us the comforts of the 21st century. Science was not receiving the support I knew it deserved.
In fact, some even sought to replace science in science classrooms and succeeded. I was unaware that my state legislators had been passing backwards legislation that was crippling the education of students who will one day take on the responsibilities of our future.
During my senior year at Baton Rouge Magnet High School a close friend, Zack Kopplin, pulled me into the fight against creationists in Louisiana. I testified before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee, illustrating how the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act, our state’s Orwellian creationism law, would stifle future innovation in Louisiana and my fellow students’ future.
Louisiana legislators continue to stubbornly uphold this creationism law. I watched shocked as creationists rambled incoherently about how evolution was “made up” and was helpless as our elected officials, who were supposed to help our students, attacked them instead. As our fight progressed in Louisiana, the battle ground expanded. Tennessee passed a creationism law. My new home, Texas, is trying to throw out evolution. Simultaneously, voucher programs continue to bring public money into creationist schools across the country.
We will continue to fight science denial in America, but we also must look forward. Science needs a larger presence in the political dialogue and in the minds of the public. Reaching back to humanity’s crowning achievement, we must have a Second Giant Leap for Mankind.
Science and technology is what drives America – and humanity – forward. Our near future holds some serious issues that have the potential to drastically affect the story of the human race. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and AIDS continue to take the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year. Even after so many years, fossil fuels are still our primary energy source. Climate change maintains its threat to ecological stability, and we are still not prepared for future asteroids that may threaten our very existence.
In this technological age, science cannot be ignored. The internet has given us unprecedented global communication, exponentially accelerating the development of our exciting future. However, public involvement is necessary for the infrastructure revolution that needs to take place. Too many unnecessary deaths can be avoided if we automate vehicles; imagine a world without drivers. Evacuated Tube Transportation (ETT) technology offers a modern solution to transportation that would send passengers from New York to Beijing in two hours for a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket.
But none of this can be possible without the public support of science and a change in the politics of science and science funding. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee recently called evolution “embryology” and the Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of hell.” But he’s not just one bad egg. The former Chairman of this same science committee claimed that the evidence supporting climate change is only a conspiracy to garner more funding for science. These Congressmen introduce legislation that threatens our invaluable intellectual resources. How can the U.S. attempt to continue to be leader in this more progressive world?
We need to tap into our scientific resources, not stifle them with outdated thinking. We need to be a leader in the international evolution into the modern world.
So call your Congressman. Send a letter. Show up at his or her door. Be loud. Science has brought us social networking; use it to demand a contemporary world and nation that is long overdue. This is the most promising time for our advancement in science so give it a new voice. Remember our past success, and call on America for a Second Giant Leap for Mankind.