A couple weeks ago, my fiance and I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Neil deGrasse Tyson speak at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. I honestly cannot describe how awesome this event was; as I sit here trying to think of works to properly convey everything, emotions are welling up inside of me. Where to begin….
The event was scheduled to begin at 7 PM, so I arrived at the Nutter Center around 4:50PM. Even then there was a sizable line down the sidewalk. As we waited for the doors to open at 6, more and more people began to show up and the line grew longer and longer…
Eventually the line progressed to circle the parking lot (pictured above) and go clear back beyond the tree line in the distance, along the sidewalk. Before I go on, I must say that seeing so many people arrive and wait in this long line was and AWESOME sight! This was something you’d only see at a rock concert or perhaps die-hard sport fans waiting to enter an arena. This is unprecedented when it comes to seeing a scientist! This gave me chills down every inch of my body. I was absolutely amazed to see such a turnout to see one of the greatest science communicators of our time.
We eventually made it inside a little after 6PM and was ushered to the front of the non-reserved seating (my fiance had a twisted ankle and was on crutches). We sat, rather impatiently I might add, while everyone got seated. There were more people than they anticipated and so they had overflow into an adjacent room where they had TVs to live broadcast the event. OVER FLOW FOR A SCIENTIST. Can you believe that?! So, we waited. 7PM rolled around before we knew it and out Dr. Tyson came to a marvelous standing ovation. Seriously, the atmosphere rivaled the biggest concert you’ll ever go to.
So the talk begins, and let me tell you not a word was uttered when Dr. Tyson started to speak. I could sit here and tell you about everything that was said, but it would be a long endeavor. I will, however, leave you with a motivation poster I put together with a quote from that night. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
The distribution of funds through the US government needs a change, and fast. NASA currently runs on just half-a-penny on the dollar from the tax payers. Look at what we can accomplish with that pitiful amount and think about what WILL be possible if that amount was raised to just a penny. The only limiting factor with what’s possible is the amount of money funneled into NASA; it has been said that for every dollar you invest into space exploration you get back ten. Sounds like a worth-while investment to me, doesn’t it to you?
We’re all bombarded with “the war on terror” and other fear-mongering political statements bent on pitting country against country. After all, fear was the main driving factor behind the Moonshot in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It is the year 2012 – hate, mistrust, fear; ALL of these should have been long-gone and the differences between people reconciled to come together. We should have been to Mars by now. Not at a singular country – bent on flexing their powerful political muscles – but as a consortium of nations hand-in-hand wanting to explore the universe as a collective species and not as rivaled tribes, trying to “one-up” the other.
When it comes to politics, this issue reaches down into my very being as being one of the most important things that we have to change. NASA’s budget has been steadily declining over the years. At one point it was easy to get money for space missions – it was literally handed out like candy. But now we’ve gone from pioneering adventures to the Moon with our eyes set on Mars to no longer sending up any manned missions; not even the shuttle. All important launches are now outsourced to other countries and up-and-coming private industries, such as Space-X.
However, every new venture requires a catalyst. Take the Cold War, for example; I would argue that if not for the arms race between Soviet Russia and the United States, we probably wouldn’t have visited the Moon by now. It’s unfortunate that a conflict was necessary to build a space program but it is what it is. Now the most important thing is to sustain that program, develop it more and continue our exploration. No one wants another conflict to spark further exploration, so it is vital that political walls and differences between countries are broken down. Combine technologies, ideas and expertise and split the costs of exploration.
We, as a species, gain knowledge and understanding via exploration of our universe and surroundings, something you can’t put a price on. So, in essence, when we suppress exploration we are supporting ignorance. Please visit Penny4NASA to see what you can do to help.