Take out your mobile phone and give it a good look. Curiosity made that. Curiosity coupled with intense concentration, wild imagination, bold hypotheses, and years of experimental toil to validate them.
The slim device in your hand encapsulates five hundred years of physics. Newtonian mechanics, James Clerk Maxwell's equations for electromagnetism, Einstein's relativity, Bohr's atomic theory, Turing's universal computer, Schrodinger's quantum wave function, Feynman's diagram: all these and more streamed into the phone you hold in your hand. And that's just one branch of science. Somewhere on your upper arm is a tiny scar that represents your vaccination against tuberculosis--the White Death, a plague that claimed the lives of one in five young Americans before the twentieth century.
Today in just one month's edition of Scientific American there are stories about a realistic plan to send tiny spacecraft to the nearest star within our lifetimes, a tested method of redesigning T-cells drawn from our own bodies to be hypervigilant cancer killers, an ingenious technique to discover the true coloration of dinosaurs, new ways to test robotic systems to determine if they truly possess humanlike intelligence, and a practical experiment to determine if alleviating a mother's poverty will improve the brain of her newborn child during the first three years of life.
If nothing on that list thrills you, stirs hope in your breast, or awakens your sense of wonder, then throw your phone away. Refuse to vaccinate your kids. Close your mind to the wonders yet to come. Science is not for you.
If you can see the connection between scientific exploration and the quality of our lives; if you value discovery for its own sake as well as the practical benefits it confers; if you perceive how science plays a critical role in warning us of the dangers ahead and how to defuse them, then prepare to march.
Why? Because ideological denial of science has metastasized from slogans to a cancer on our nation. The White House has purged scientific information, gagged government scientists, and is reversing efforts to mitigate global warming. The new head of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has fought scientific advice on curbing unnecessary (but highly profitable) medical tests.
The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is an ardent opponent of environmental regulation and a denier of anthropogenic climate...