Sunday, February 10, 2008
Dr. Hayashi's Talk
I was duly impressed with Dr. Hayashi’s ebullient and contagious optimism. Not only did she clearly liked talking to her audience, but immensely liked her work as well. But what truly struck me was her remark on education. I agree that what this country needs are more thinkers. Maybe not just scientists, but people that have the minds of scientists: clear and open minds. As I have probably mentioned before, China’s politburo is composed almost entirely of scientists; China is a technocracy. Concerned less with power they send the country in a forward and future looking path.
On the other and more ominous hand Muslim countries hardly make any impact on the world’s affairs. Although there are over a billion Muslims only two have ever won a Nobel Prize, in addition, one of these winners, a Pakistani, was barred from speaking in his native land. Today’s situation is a far cry from the golden times of early Arab rule during which Muslim Arabs led the world in scientific progress, a time when the rest of Europe was in the Dark Ages.
What went wrong? Invasions and Turkic peoples certainly destroyed the progress Arabs had made but there were also fewer people like Dr. Hayashi. When thinking becomes conservative and closed people will and can suffer terrible conditions.
This is why it was very encouraging to hear Dr. Hayashi speak so eloquently and passionately about spider silk. I know that people must question the reasons why scientists pursue these stretches of science when there is no apparent impact on people (for instance creatures on the ocean floor or in the far reaches of space). Nevertheless, there are indeed some very potentially profound and interesting applications for spider silk. One day there might be spider silk factories churning out either biological or synthetic silk to make incredibly strong materials. Her work compares to the fantastic qualities of the Spiderman comic. Like Spiderman, Dr. Hayashi’s work has the quality to be significant in people’s lives.
When scientists, like Dr. Hayashi, look for answers they open minds. All of a sudden there are many more paths to take. If only our politicians in the world had the training that Dr. Hayashi had. Scientists gather to figure out more about the genome, build the ISS, and test out CERN when the world’s politicians can’t come to terms with anything. Science is optimism; it is the general mood that things can be changed for the better. And optimism is something sorely needed in today’s world of gloom and doom.
Personally I feel that it made me realize that being open-minded is a golden quality. She had no idea what she wanted to do and it was by chance she had the opportunity to get into spiders. I just hope I have the same luck in finding equally golden opportunities.