October 1st, 2008

Making Science Cool

Are we so immersed within the ocean of advancement that we have become numb to our own achievements?

“Science needs to be cool again!” Garry Neil, Vice President of the Corporate Office of Science & Technology for Johnson & Johnson said during a speech on the state of innovation in the biomedical industry earlier this year.

Ever since I first learned of Neil’s statement, I have been wondering when science stopped being cool. Today, we are surrounded by impressive technology that a few decades ago existed solely in science fiction. Computers and the Internet rule my daily life. I have access to vast sums of knowledge and information at my fingertips that only a few years ago, would have taken countless days to attain. Beyond my office door, women and men are applying science to developing cures to illness and figuring out ways to not only help us live longer, but enjoy a greater quality of life.

I grew up a few miles from New York City. During my most recent visit I realized for the first time since I was a young child how majestic the city really is. Similarly, I lived near Niagara Falls for a few years and completely lost track of the awe that Falls used to inspire in me. I use my computer all of the time and rarely stop to marvel at how impressive it truly is.

On the other hand, maybe we aren’t too immersed with science and technology. It’s possible that we just need to teach science for science’s sake and stop dumbing it down for children. Perhaps we should teach up to students and challenge them with the real life implications of science.

Something cool is happening everyday in biomedical research, and biomedical researchers are saving lives while simultaneously offering greater insight into the mysteries of life. George Church has established the Personal Genome Project to map the genomes of individuals in order to trace disease, family history, and discover the significance of individual genetic codes. Who knows what life changing research will emerge from his work.

Science never stopped being cool… we just need a power outage to remind us how cool our achievements actually are.

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