24 November 2007

There ought to be a parade

In Carolyn Porco's Ted talk (below), she talks about the landing of the space probe Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan. I recommend watching it, because her delivery is so much more powerful than reading the quote I took from it.

About 9 minutes in, she says:
And I just want to emphasize how significant an event this is. This is a device of human making and it landed in the outer solar system for the first time in human history. It is so significant, that in my mind, this was an event should have been celebrated with ticker tape parades in every city across the U.S. and Europe, and sadly, this wasn't the case.
I was also thinking over the weekend about the recent publication that two research teams had created human pluripotent stem cells from adult tissue. (Here's one and here's the other.) I heard about this, and thought nothing much more than, "That's good news" or some such.

But I got wondering why every biologist in the department wasn't high fiving each other. I haven't had a single conversation about this research since the announcement.

Is it because it hasn't yet impacted us?

Is it because, being in the field, we sort of knew this would be possible and that it would probably happen sooner or later?

Or are we just so accustomed to change that the wondrous has become mundane?

Because make no mistake: We are living in a wonderful time of scientific achievement and discovery.

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