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Want to Go to the Stars? First You Must Stand With Science

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Want to reach for the stars?

Sometimes one gets a sinking feeling. Here we are on the cusp of so very many things in science, from finding other Earths, to understanding the extraordinary organisms right under our noses, and even detecting the fundamental particles that help build all that we see. We are also in the midst of an incredible flourishing of interest in this most rational of ways to make sense of the universe around us, and with good reason, for the economic health of any nation it is clear that science and technology are more than ever the route to long-term success. And yet, and yet… here in the US science funding is in serious danger. I’ve posted before about the plight of NASA, and other resources are rapidly approaching similar parlor states.

It’s vital for us all that the sciences, and especially the next generations of investigators, innovators, and creators are not allowed to fall by the wayside on account of what is, even in tough financial times, a relatively small investment. So take a moment to look at the video below from the very people that matter the most, those next generations of scientists, engineers, and technologists. Stand With Science was started by a group of MIT graduate students who are members of the Science Policy Initiative. Its goal is to make people hear, and in particular to make the US Congress pay attention to protecting Science Funding.

Watch it and act on it. We might one day reach across the universe to the stars, but only if we make sure we are prepared.

Caleb A. Scharf About the Author: Caleb Scharf is the director of Columbia University's multidisciplinary Astrobiology Center. He has worked in the fields of observational cosmology, X-ray astronomy, and more recently exoplanetary science. His books include Gravity's Engines (2012) and The Copernicus Complex (2014) (both from Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) Follow on Twitter @caleb_scharf.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Wayne Williamson 7:43 pm 11/14/2011

    Caleb…my only questioning of this very important subject…the funding of science…is why you chose to talk about nasa and space exploration…None of these are in the video or the link….PS..I signed the petition…

    Link to this
  2. 2. caleb_scharf 10:12 am 11/15/2011

    NASA and exploration are items that are on my personal radar! Obviously the video and effort is far broader than that and speak to a deep and critical need.

    Link to this
  3. 3. hnabipoor 1:00 pm 10/22/2012

    I have invented a novel propulsion engine but I lack the necessary funding resources to manufacture a working model of it as proof of concept. I have reached out to many so-called “research” institutions but they all turned me down. The notion of “academic research” or “government-funded research” makes me puke, seriously! Universities and government agencies are wasting TAX money on their so-called “research”. I wish people like me, who have visions but lack money, could have access to only 1/1000 of those funds/grants. I am an independent engineer/inventor, came up with a novel invention which is an electro-mechanical engine, which means it converts electricity directly into mechanical force instead of using fuel. It’s a novel concept and it’s hard to explain how it works and creates thrust because some people (as I expected) told me it violates conservation of momentum. In theory yes but in practice I don’t think so. I hope I will have a prototype of it fabricated and put to test soon. You may check it out on my website:

    -Hossein Nabipoor, inventor of the first practical interstellar propulsion engine

    Link to this

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