This year holds many neat anniversaries, and oddly enough each of them have had an impact on my education, in a quasi-related way.
First up, pretty much any student in elementary or high school would always love the day that the science teacher would pop in a Bill Nye the Science Guy video. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first airing of his television show. On a recent podcast, it was revealed that Bill Nye will be returning to the airwaves so to speak, with a new series of videos that will be broadcast on YouTube as part of Nerdist Industries. Bill Nye has always been an advocate for science education and promoting continued funding for space and exploration. He is definitely a personal role model, not just for his science awesomeness, but for his bow-tie wearing prowess.
The space program, for which Bill Nye is such a great advocate, is also celebrating a unique anniversary this year. September 5th marked the 35 years since the launch of Voyager I. After that short 35 years Voyager I is about ready to leave our solar system, which is an amazing accomplishment, some say that is on par with the Magellan travels and the moon landing. Wired has complied a photo retrospective of Voyager I ‘s journey, they are quite stunning, and something that I think we have come to take for granted. Voyager I (and many other space missions) are such an inspiration to me and have in their own round about way encouraged me to pursue an education in the sciences.
In addition to the role Voyager I has had in revealing some secrets of our solar system and universe, it also had a supporting role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Star Trek: The Original Series is also celebrating this year, as it celebrates 46 years since the original airing of the first episode. To mark this occasion Google, made one of its best Google Doodles yet.
While TOS wasn’t my series (although I have come to enjoy it), I was still inspired by the great vision of Star Trek. I know those days of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation inspired me to pursue science, and I am very happy about that.
While I didn’t end up following any of the engineering sciences as would be suggested by my inspiration from Bill Nye (former Boeing engineer), or space, or Star Trek, I did end up pursuing an education in Environmental Toxicology. It was during this time that I learnt about Rachel Carson, whose ground breaking and seminal work, Silent Spring, is this year marking 50 years since its first publication. In her book, Carson drew the public’s attention to the consequences of indiscriminate use of pesticides, mainly DDT and its effects on non-target organisms such as birds. Her book was, and continues to be, very controversial, but its strengths lay in the way it was written. It was written in a very accessible and eloquent manner, and was backed up with an extensive reference list. Carson’s book is largely credited with the launching of the modern environmental movement, and the banning of the use of DDT. Rachel Carson is a true inspiration to me, not only in terms of her science, but for her gift of communicating that science to the public, and ultimately having an impact of so many people.
Inspiration to pursue education can come from anywhere. There are lots of other people, experiences, and television shows that have helped guide me towards this path, above is just a very small sampling, I will do my best to draw attention to the others at another time.