Actually, when I was a kid I really wanted to become a marine biologist. Not sure if it was Flipper or Jacques Cousteau that sparked my interest, but I dream of one day studying whales and sea turtles. Then little by little the grown ups around me started to discourage me, first by saying that I had to go to a remote place to truly study (back then I had no sense of how cool those remote places really are) or how there would be no money on that field. That made sense back then, there could not be two Jacques Cousteau.
The U.S. is in big trouble. Global warming is not just knocking at our doors but actually sitting down in our living room having a drink, but not before leaving the fridge door open so that our ice melts. However, I think that we have a way bigger problem facing us. The latest generations could care less about science.
When I was looking for a career I actually got admitted to the pre-med program at Loyola University in Chicago. I had taken a couple of college credit courses in high school and did quite well in Physiology. I just did not have the stomach for being a doctor, my physiology teacher made us dissect a pig for weeks and the smell of formaldehyde did not leave us for months. We got to see cadavers and that was not too bad, but ultimately having someone’s life in my hands was something I was not willing to do.
I chose Computer Science as a career for many reasons. I have always loved computers and especially video games. It was also the thing to get into in the 90’s. It is sad that so many people jumped into that bandwagon only to fall off of it and hit the floor pretty hard. I remember so many people that did not have the patience to look through pages and pages of code to find that misplaced comma, or the people that simply did not have the troubleshooting skills to find a bug. Must did not graduate, the ones that did ended up working in the field for a couple of years and then quickly burned out.
We just watched one of the biggest sport spectacles in the world. The SuperBowl is an event that millions of people watch in the United States. I then think about how our kids are more and more having their dreams being dictated by the media and how much money a career is going to give you. Ask a teenager what he would want to be when he grows up and I bet that a high percentage will pick professional sports start before they pick scientist.
We are in trouble people, most scientist in our universities right now are of foreign. In this post 9-11 era must do not want to go through the naturalization hassle and end up taking all of that brain power back to their countries. If we forget sciences we are not just going to lose some of the best advances on science to other countries, we are going to lose them all. America is the land of innovation; we are supposed to ones the ones with the big ideas… the automobile, the personal computer, the iPod… what happens when the next big thing comes out of India or China… What happens when we lose our biggest asset?
I am very proud that all of these countries are moving their economies and education forward, but I live in the US and I want it to continue to be on top when it comes to ideas. I know that one of the biggest points that I am going to be looking out for in the next election is what the candidates going to do about our kids not having the dream of being an astronaut anymore.