Educators lament that we are falling behind other countries in the world because we simply are NOT inspiring and/or informing our children about the excitements of SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY. This has become an endemic crisis and isn't likely to do anything but worsen, especially if in some elaborate and preeminent effort we do not take steps to correct those influences in our society NOW, instead of assuming they will just correct themselves.
It was Professor Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education who stated it most succinctly when he said, "Everyone knows what a wide receiver does for the Redskins. The kids know this, they see this on T.V. Who's explaining to them what chemists do?"
Perhaps more to the point, what emphasis are our parents, the educational systems and our federal government placing upon the study of science and engineering? Shipping most of our technical responsibilities overseas is surely a recipe for disaster.
So we must ask the question: What's wrong with the career-planning and occupational-inspiration happening today? Why aren't we making a surpassing effort to attract our brightest students into science and technology?
Well, if SCIENCE is as saleable as professional football, etc. just what can we turn to in terms of TODAY'S discoveries and SCIENTIFIC concerns that might just be worth imparting to our youth, those who are considering their life's work? How can we turn it around?
From the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Genomics Division in California, we learn that researchers have begun to see some intrinsic differences between humans and chimps in terms of gene expression.
In a study appearing in the November 3, edition of the journal Science, these researchers have found that there are significant differences between humans and other animals such as chimpanzees in how neurons seem to "stick together". In other words, they are adding additional knowledge to what we have known in areas of answering questions about why humans appear to possess special traits, when compared with some of our nearest evolutionary "relatives". Instead of reaching the rather contrary conclusions of the past that humans and chimpanzees are exceedingly similar, this new study has, at last, begun to find what is quite obvious: namely there are very specific causes for our DIFFERENCES and it results, at least in part, from neuron adhesion.
NOW, couldn't such a breakthrough in scientific understanding, if conveyed to our young high school students, demonstrate to at least SOME of them that pursuit in THE STUDY OF genomics just MIGHT trump running for a first down?
OR . . .
What about the advances in medical science in treating and understanding diseases and their causes? A cure for cancer? But, looking farther into the future, advances that will revolutionize society as we know it: micro-chip technology that includes chips implanted in the brain that enable controls of many kinds, controls that would, for example, render cell phones obsolete [think the message and it gets sent]; mega-control of very advanced television/music/motion picture viewing and automotive handling. What about implants that allow us to have instantaneous access to everything on-line? Don't GIGGLE, just GOOGLE! ...
I'd think if confronted with such amazingly incredible potential discoveries, there would be a sector of our youth who would regard THESE kinds of ADVANCES as far and away more desirable, more CRAVED, than a long run from scrimmage.
Cosmology now has begun to embrace a very mysterious force called "dark energy", which seems to be driving apart all "bodies" in the universe, completely countering what SHOULD be happening if GRAVITY were the only, or even the dominating, force. It was Einstein (ALBERT) who first suggested such a force as dark energy way back in the early years of the 20th century, however the concept of the BIG BANG theory for how the universe began seemed to gain the "upper hand" when considering reasons for an expanding universe. Until, that is, some awesome sights were SEEN through the HUBBLE telescope. Astronomers noticed for the first time some things about supernova explosions. They showed older supernovae, those FARTHER away from us whose light had traveled a greater distance [meaning we were peering much farther back in time], were "flying away" from Earth at a far slower speed than supernovae that were much nearer to us. The only conclusion, then, had to be that the universe's expansion was accelerating, NOT slowing down, as would be the case if GRAVITY were the preponderating force attempting to act upon that (once believed) EXPLOSIVENESS of the BIG BANG. Dark Energy IS CERTAINLY NOT AT ALL UNDERSTOOD, but it does seem now that that old genius, Einstein, was "right on"!
Can you imagine, if only some of our "YOUNG GENIUSES" were introduced to the unfathomable challenges here FAR AWAY in the "SKIES ABOVE" that it wouldn't completely DWARF the importance of "airing it out" with a long pass?
We have a choice. Either we can continue to lose ground as the pre-eminent POWER in the world, or we can decide to EXCITE our children to go into fields of SCIENCE and ENGINEERING. What we DON'T have is a lot of time to alter our priorities, if we hope to maintain our scientific and technological predominance. BUT, the operative corollary is We'll receive exactly what we deserve.