October 2, 2010
On this final day of Cal-echoes research expedition I would like to pull together some final thoughts for my students to consider.
The first is how important and critical it is for all students to have the sense of inquiry and investigation. Some students are intimidated by science. I think some of that comes from the misconception that it is somehow out of reach. My suggestion is to not always accept what you think you know. It is truly something amazing, but true in almost every discipline in science the fact that we have so many gaps in our knowledge of how the world works. Don’t think for a minute that we know even close to everything. Realistically, what’s in your science textbooks may actually turn out to be inaccurate as we uncover new evidence. Science could never stand still. So… there is much to do, and you can contribute to that knowledge.
This is completely evident on this cruise. 5% of the ocean has been explored. When you look at a map of earth you can’t escape the realization that the oceans make up such a vast part of it. Knowing that 95% of that space has yet to be explored is an invitation to you all. Science is open to you. I can tell you that in my many conversations this week I’ve heard many things and honestly one of those statements from the researchers has been “we really don’t know.” Now to some that may seem like the researchers may not be knowledgeable about the topic. I can assure you that these scientists are certainly experts in their field. The fact they are uncertain about many things does not mean they are unqualified. In fact, to me, it says something about how much work there is to do.Those mysteries in the natural world are intriguing to me. The unknown is around us.
Tons to do. This job, of doing science, I’m hopeful you’ve experienced is certainly not done by old men in white lab coats with crazy hair and fascination for mixing concoctions is not really how it works. Women, men, young, and old from all types of cultural representations came together to work on this expedition. This interdisciplinary group of biologists, chemists, computer programmers, engineers, geologists, climatologists, physicists, and geneticists bring their expertise and a new way of thinking about our natural world together. That’s how it really works.
Science is open to all, but especially to those that are impressed by the natural world, and have the sense of wonder about it. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have those feelings or thoughts, at least some of the time.