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Readers Respond: Why I Like Science

Science is the partner of art and the quest for truth

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We no longer think of the stars as points of light on the tapestry of the night but now know that they're burning balls of gas billions of miles away in the black expanse of space (Credit: NASA and H. Richer (University of British Columbia))

Two weeks ago I asked readers to weigh in on why they like science. Two submissions caught my eye. This first essay is from a friend, Sandy Lee, who is the IT support specialist for the Phillips Collection, an art museum here in Washington, D.C., as well as an amateur artist. His personal and professional lives often give him reason to like science, he writes:

Science is the partner of Art. There is an inherent beauty in the mathematical progression of an arpeggio, the molecular structure of a graphene molecule and the resident harmony of a finely tuned Formula One engine at full throttle.

Science is also the quest for truth. While I may not be the most skeptical of persons, I marvel at our capacity to continually ask the question, “Why?” and to seek the answers existing at the edges of the universe and deep within ourselves. Because “just because” is not a good enough answer.

Science is tragic. Masterpieces from forgotten civilizations are ravaged by time, elements and human vanity. Countless lab hours are spent in search of a medical cure that is still unknown. Computer viruses decimate invaluable data on a global scale, and scores of people braver than I gave everything they could in the name of science.

Science is sexy. We all dream of having that one “EUREKA!” moment, when it all comes together, works like it should and validates the countless hours of research. Sure, it’s simply a behavioral reaction caused by adrenaline and dopamine, but isn’t that what it’s all about?

This second essay is from Leo Johnson, a 19-year-old biology and secondary education student at Louisiana State University. “I was previously a pre-veterinary major,” he writes, “but decided I would make more of a difference teaching kids science than taking care of sick animals.” It’s great when teachers are passionate about their subjects, and that’s obvious from this explanation of why he likes science:

I was going to attempt to write something eloquent and awe-inspiring, but science is already those things. Science, when you truly understand it, is truly magnificent and astounding. Science has shown me that because of the unique combination of my parents’ DNA that came together to form me, I’m one of more than 70 trillion potential combinations that could’ve been made.

Science tells me just how amazing the world and the things in it are. All the animals I see everyday are the products of billions of years of evolution, of change. I’m the product of that change.

Science somehow takes the mystery out of things but also makes them more magical. We no longer think of the stars as points of light on the tapestry of the night but now know that they’re burning balls of gas billions of miles away in the black expanse of space. This, to me, is more fantastic and amazing than anything someone could’ve made up.

Science, simply, is both factual and fantastic. All the things science tells us are supported by facts and results. The facts say that the universe we live in is more amazing than we could ever imagine and we’re lucky enough to be able to have science to show us this.

It’s because of this that I like science so much. Science allows me to discover and understand. It shows me things I would never know, or be able to know without it. Science provides me with answers, and if my question hasn’t been answered yet, I can be assured that someone is working on answering it. It’s the understanding that allows us to question. Science is the gift that keeps on giving; the more we understand, the more we seek to understand. The broader our knowledge, the more we want to expand it. Science makes the world more fantastic, and the more we already know, the more we’ll soon discover.

If you’d like to participate in our Why I Like Science series, send a 200- to 500-word essay to WhyILikeScience@gmail.com; I’ll publish the best entries in future posts on Surprising Science.

About Sarah Zielinski
Sarah Zielinski

Sarah Zielinski is an award-winning science writer and editor. She is a contributing writer in science for Smithsonian.com and blogs at Wild Things, which appears on Science News.

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