Saturday, April 22, 2017

I'm Crying on the Outside That My Mom has to March for Science in 2017

My mom is good at doing the science, and I for one could not be more jealous. Before she went to medical school--one of ten women in her class of 100--she was halfway to her PhD in chemistry. 

Fast forward 20 years later, and she was working and teaching at Columbia University med school. We got into many YOOGE fights when she tried to explain 7th grade algebra to me, and I just kept screaming and crying about how stupid it was that there were letters in my math homework. 

Later attempts at organic chemistry and evolutionary biology failed similarly, so I chose instead to focus on two spaces versus one space between sentences, move far away from her formidable shadow, and the rest of my academic and professional trajectory is history.

Every time I call and ask how she's doing lately, she says some version of great, you know, except for everything Donald Trump does makes me insane. So it was almost a foregone conclusion that she would attend the March for Science in DC this weekend. 

I wanted to go with her, but was stopped by the hypocrisy of consuming the fossil fuel it would take to fly 4,000 miles from Juneau to DC and hop in several Ubers along the way. I mean, I'm not Al Gore for fuck's sake.

Here are a few pics my dad texted from the march. He's a science writer, not a scientist, but he too hearts the scientific method and evidence-based science. So, why the hell not, right? 

It makes me sad that my mom has to do this in 2017. That we have taken such a dangerous intellectual leap backward with the election of a quasi-senile climate change denier who can't spell and doesn't even know what uranium is. It's deeply depressing, to be sure.

Admittedly, it's science that got us into this pickle. Without science, we wouldn't have the internet, and without the internet, we wouldn't have Trump. Likewise, without science, we wouldn't have bombs and Exxon, and without those things, we wouldn't have our quality of life and yet seriously be considering trying to inhabit Mars when earth reaches the literal and figurative boiling point.

That's what makes science such a dangerous but essential tool for humankind. It's the thing that separates us from every other sentient species on earth. It has the capacity to divest us of our most basic limitations, and create seemingly insurmountable new ones we are then forced to reckon with.

What will a bunch of nerds marching do? Probably nothing, other than to show the world that not everyone is okay with a fact-free universe. Meanwhile it's 54 degrees in Juneau today, and my Alaska kids and their friends are complaining that the heat is excruciating. 

So here's to science, and the scientists who expand its horizons every day.

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