How NASA inspires the World’s young.
[Click to enlarge picture]

A while ago I told you about your man John Mather’s message to school kids in India:

Do not make grand plans. Be flexible. Talk to people…everything good I’ve done has come from conversations with people. Science is a very social phenomenon.

Now Gen. Bolden, surely you know quite a bit of science – having been a combat pilot. I am told you need to know a lot of science stuff to fly them modern fighters. So what do you make of this advice? From what little I know about science, this is what I would tell kids if they asked me what science is about:

1. Truth and beauty
2. Imagination and vision
3. Logic and reason
4. Experiment and analysis
5. Inventiveness and enterprise
6. Intuition and gut
7. ….

I can continue with this list, and I can even get to “beautiful mind”, but I don’t think I will ever get to “social phenomenon.”

On the other hand, if one is screwing around with science – cooking data and stuff – he is going to need a lot of folks to cover his butt. It sure would have to be a “social phenomenon.”

And if I were to give any advice to kids, it would be to make grand plans – the sky is the limit etc. Why should thinking grand be the protected purview of only the String Theorists? Why should the kids be shooed away?

Why is it that your man Mather – when he inspires US kids – is all wide blue skies and grandma’s apple pies and idyllic childhood and a Nobel Prize in the offing, but when he talks to them little brown kids in India, it is like: Whoa! No grand plans for you! Talk to people to figure out if you can do anything. Get a (US) Nobel Laureate to help your country out?

Lordy Lordy, Gen. Bolden, what are we looking at here?!

A fine NASA ambassador you got there, Gen. Bolden!

Now, most recently, Mather told students in India:

An astronomer must know his job which is to find out how things started and how human beings came into existence.

Surely you have looked at the stars from high up there past Mach 1 and wondered about astronomy?! I also know a little bit about astronomy, and it would never in a million years have occurred to me that an astronomer’s job is to find out how human beings came into existence. Astronomy is about learning about the firmament, learning how to make observations, making observations, and making sense of them. That’s it. Tycho Brahe was an astronomer, Edwin Hubble was an astronomer. I don’t think by any stretch of definition you could call Charlie Darwin or Louis Leakey or Stanley Miller an astronomer. And Exobiology is not Astronomy. The kids probably had a pretty good idea about what Astronomy is before your man disabused them of it.

In the same report above, there is this line about the video link to India:

He spoke to about 500 students from Muscat.

Why is your man from Goddard delivering a video lecture to India from Oman? Is he traveling the Arab world as your ambassador, or is this a proxy server deal? How much are you paying to rent the videoconferencing facilty in Muscat? Just curious.

Nex up: Your man will inspire the kids at the Blake High School:

Future of Physics

Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: