Understanding A Love of Science
My whole life seems to start with spying the Moon through a gun sight.
It’s certainly been its own strange experiment to see just what the heck I am meant to do in this world. It’s probably well-accepted that Star Wars had a lot to do with raising kids interested in space and science. I would bet a lot of money on that in my situation. As a kid, all I ever wanted was to explore the vastness of space (with my best friend, a robot, obviously).
Math and science were my strongest subjects in school, but I supplemented these strengths with my love of science fiction. It gave me the escape I so desperately craved and it fed my imagination at a time when family life was turbulent.
This desire grew into an obsession with becoming an astronaut in junior high and lasted well into high school. I wrote reports on future rockets and life on space stations, but I started to wonder if I could find the peace I sought in the low Earth orbit of our reality. I gave up that dream to boldly go somewhere else — physics.
I fell into the infinite loop of community college right out of high school. I had fun, lots of friends, and the classes were easy. Though it took some very personal wake-up calls to finally apply myself and transfer to UC Davis. I spent a total of 4 years getting there, and once I did, it went by all too quickly.
You could say I’m a victim of the higher education system, or something like that. I had a few professors take interest in me back in community college, and I soared there as a result. But once I hit the UC system it suddenly felt like it was everyone for themselves. I finished my 2 years at Davis feeling dejected and useless, only to re-enter the world as an adult with no clue or direction as to what should happen next.
I learned many things there. But 2 years is not a lot of time to cram an extensive body of knowledge. I remember emailing a professor from my community college asking how he managed to understand anything with so much going on at once, and his reply was that, years after receiving his phd, he still didn’t understand.
So you might see why the most important thing that I learned in college was that I yearn for this elusive thing called understanding. It is the end goal that gives me satisfaction in a world where we hardly know much of anything and understand even less. There is no reason to extinguish the fire inside that follows up every answer with “why?”, in fact we should fan the flame. We need that fire to survive.
I remember when I learned about the fate of our sun. I was a junior in highschool and I took an astronomy class over the summer to get a jump on my senior project. I learned that our cozy sun would one day (billions of years later) swell into a Red Giant and envelope and possibly destroy the Earth. I returned to school that fall feeling small and afraid for I had been given the harshest dose of reality imaginable — the future of our planet! Little did I know that there would be far more prominent concerns to befall mankind than a star in mid-life crisis.
I know how incredibly negative all of this sounds, but it put me on a strange path of understanding. We live in an exciting time because there is great change on our horizon. Maybe that change is actually failure, or maybe we will survive well beyond the life of this solar system, but one thing is absolutely clear — no matter what, we need science.