Science and Patriotism

My attitudes towards patriotism has changed a lot over the years. I'm a bit more ambiguous now than I used to be... which is strange, all things considered. On the 4th of July, I most like to remember my earliest thoughts and emotions on patriotism, and try to feel the way I felt before I started pondering cynical adult things.

This year the 4th of July brings it with an exciting announcement about the Higgs-Boson, and the entire world is a flutter. And I have to admit that I had been hoping the announcement, if and when it came, would come from Fermilab. You know - routing for the home team and all. Go USA! This is my current form of patriotism.

So I have been sitting here of course, thinking about the Higgs-B and the 4th of July, and it strikes me that patriotism and science are quite the pair.

Firstly, you have how patriotism contributes to science and how science contributes to patriotism. Some of our greatest advances have come from military technology, and we all know how federal spending supports science exploration. Federal dollars play such a large part in the science field that any cuts cause worry and commotion, and that the surest way to create research for a particular subject is to create a pot of federal dollars for it. I hope government and science have a prenup, because they may as well be married. The most obvious examples are military and space exploration... let us not forget (The Alamo?) Los Alamos! The Space Race, yet another glaring example.

Secondly, you have how the pursuit of science demonstrates some of our "American values". Persistence, hard work, inquisition, and independent thought. Is this why many of the world's greatest science discoveries and inventions happened on our homesoil? One of my favorite examples here are Thomas Edison's demonstration of hard work and persistence when he tried to create the light bulb thousands of times before succeeding. Albert Einstein was said to have praised America's merit-based system of rewards and our freedom of speech for fostering creativity and freedom in intellectual pursuits.

This last statement strikes me as almost out of place during a time when science and politics are  clashing in this bizarre imagined battle, but it's true. Science and patriotism - and certainly science and government - are joined at the hip, in a manner of speaking. They are like peas and carrots, peanutbutter and jelly, electrons and protons.

So, this 4th... Remember Los Alamos!  (hehe)

1 comment:

ConstanceB. said...

I will forever think of the Alamo, science and patriotism on the fourth of July now. Lol.