Friday, November 27, 2009

Science as candle in the dark

40 years from now a wisdom man said: “This is a small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.  The human beings watched with proud and hope how one of us landed and step on moon, the 20th of July of 1969. It doesn’t matter if the voyage to the moon was the result of the Cold War, this incredible journey is only comparable with the discover of America or the exhaustive expeditions to discover all the places of this beautiful planet. This milestone changed our lives and the way we see the Universe, since then everything seems to be possible and reachable. Before, the sky was the limit, now, the stars seems to be next reachable limit.

This post is dedicated to the Science, to the greatest inventions and discovers of the human mind, and the role that it has had in all the human history. For me Science is my life maybe because my formation or because the fact that I’m always reading and learning different things and trying to understand how universe works. Since I remember I was always disarming my toys in order to know what makes them move, until I received the best gift of my life, an encyclopedia. I read each one of the pages of the 16 volumes of the Children world’s Encyclopedia, I enjoyed each one of the stories, the tales and the experiences of the  human activity and their understanding of the universe, of their home. The Universe ceased to be that unknown place to become an incredible source of knowledge, to become my home…. then I tried to create things from scratch… I mixed so many things in the toilet in order to create something, to see how different substances react and then wait for something extraordinary… as you might think I never got anything… many years after that I realized that I would never create anything because, as Carl Sagan said, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

I’m glad to live in this year, because this is the science year, actually it is the astronomy year. We are celebrating so many scientific things this year that we cannot forget them. In a short description those are:

  • 400 years ago Galileo Galilei invented the telescope, maybe the first revolutionary invention to approach us to our origins, because you must remember that we are made of star stuff… With this he discovered the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, he draw the first high resolution picture of the moon. At the same time Johannes Kepler was describing the elliptical movement of the planets around the sun. And 60 years after, Sir Isaac Newton defined the bases of the infinitesimal calculus and after that him wrote maybe one of the most important works in history the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica , where he described the universal gravitation law and the principles of the mechanics.
  • 200 years ago Charles Darwin was born and 150 years ago he wrote the most exciting and revealing book of his era: On the origin of species. Since him we know that we are the product of thousands and thousands of generations and mutations. We were not product of some magic powders, we are the last descendants of the extraordinary Natural Selection.
  • Four years ago we were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Annus Marabilis of 1905 when Albert Einstein presented his 4 incredible articles that changed the way that people saw the world in that moment. For me the most incredible article was, and I think that for you also, the "Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper" ("On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies") most known as the special relativity theory.
  • 40 years ago man landed on moon. The farthest journey of man, but not the most expensive, took place in July of 1969. For the first time in history we leave our home to explore different places. The sky was the limit but now it seems that there is no limit, like the slogan of this year: “The Universe Yours to Discover” 
  • 40 years ago there was the first link between computers, between the universities of UCLA and Stanford. This is considered the birth of the Internet, that is so far the best invention of the last century. Decades before we tried to reduce distances using the radio, phone and television to transmit information among us. But it was only with this invention, the Internet, that we clearly are able to share and transmit information in real time; Internet is the real core of the information society, it is the synergy that better describes the world where we live now.
  • In the last 10 years we have been reading the code of life. DNA has the clues of life, of how to solve the major problems that we have in our bodies, it has the clues that God left to us.
  • And to show how science doesn’t keep quiet some days ago NASA discover that there is water in the moon.

So far I described the biggest milestones of science in the last centuries (that are deeply related this year), of course that I left behind another ones, like the Maxwell laws, the invention of the radio, the nuclear power, the Schrödinger's cat. I just wanted to show you the importance of science in our life, now we live in an era where science has a direct impact in the way that we live and see the world. 2009 is a year of joy, a human kind celebration, a pure scientific year (as memorable as 2005 that was the physics year in honor to the 4 Einstein’s postulates presented in 1905) that remember us how we evolve from other animals and environment and how we have to respect them (as our natives did). This year, that is finishing, is the proof of the human imagination, of what we can do, about the limits that we don’t have.

And this year, at least for me, is the meaning that there is a world of possibilities that we have to explore to improve our quality of life, projects like Smart Planet or like 10 to the 100 are the proof that this is when our change for a better life starts. Science did an incredible journey of hundreds of years, in our hands is the responsibility to keep this legacy and use it to change and save this planet.  In a quite short conclusion, Science is the tool that our ancestors gave to us to protect our home from everything and also from ourselves.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The jungle, the river and the human being

Last weekend I went to the Amazonas, the most important forest in the world called the World’s Lung, and the feelings that I have after visiting that place are hope and sadness. Before describing my feelings I am going to tell what I see. (Mostly of the pictures are in my Picasa Web Album.)

The first thing that I saw was respect, respect for what has been given to us. Carl Sagan said that we as human beings are on the shoulders of thousand and thousands of generations that has given to us (after uncountable mutations during millions of years) the knowledge and capacities that we have today, and our responsibility is to protect that legacy and give it to the further generations. For me was a total surprise to know that 70% of the Colombian Amazonia is under state protection, that means that all the forest and animals that live there won’t be used for commercial trade. Thousand and thousands of acres are now a legacy for our children. We are protecting all the animal species that live in the Amazonas and is our duty to tell and teach our children how to protect them and how to respect them.

Pano_Amazonas_5

When you are in the river you can see the result of years and years of pollution… the river is getting dry. The largest river in the world by volume has reduced its level of water in the last decade, the principal artery of the world’s lung is getting without blood. As we protect the forest we must protect the environment that feeds it. I have seen with my eyes that the global warming is not an invention of some crazy people, I have touch with my hands the beach that is near the river, created in the recently years. There have been several campaigns to save the river, but this won’t be solved only with the effort of the people that live close to it, it’s a duty of each human being to restore the natural flow of the environment.

PB160102And the last thing that I saw and that I’m going to share is the entity that did the things that I described before: the humans.  Nothing of this would happened if there were no human relation with the Amazonas. Since the very first time that man were in the forest he understood his place in the earth system. It is known that native Americans (from north to south) had a respect for the land, they knew how to use it and also how to protect it; then the conquerors from the east came and destroy each contact that we had with our land. Before this trip I thought that our connection with our place was broken but when I began to talk with native people from Amazonas and they told me what they are doing, how they know how to protect their place, how the are teaching their children using the etno-education (that is an education similar to the normal one but having a deep core in their native knowledge) I felt hope, again, in the human beings. I’ve seen how the beings that had committed the changes that are destroying the planet are trying to revert that, a lot of touristic campaigns are taking place in the Amazonas in order to show the people how the jungle is and how we can save it, as Al Gore said there is no other time to save this planet, we must be remembered as the generation that saved the earth and lead the changes to save our species. PB160161

I’ve seen those three things, highly related with the title of this post, in my journey to the deep of the forest, of the jungle. I said that I felt sadness, why sadness? because I understood the level of destruction that we have done to our planet, I can see in the eyes of the natives the  fear and anger that they have, and also the disappointment that they feel for their sons because they only want to leave the forest in order to earn money. But also I felt hope because there are people that are working to recover the environment, there are teachers that are empowering the children, teaching them about respect and care the forest. The next generations are getting all this knowledge in order to protect their legacy. Universities are researching in new ideas to save the land and also to become it in a sustainable source of resources. The cards are played and each human has the game that can save our home, is just a matter of responsibility.

We are facing the sunset of the post industrial era, the last century was the period of time with the highest level of advancement based on a global scale profit economy. And after sunset the night comes, maybe we are now in the dark side in this moment, but we have to remember that only when when the night is darker is when it is about to dawn…..PB150067