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ASUSU VIEW: Don’t forget about the scientists

Published: Monday, January 10, 2011

Updated: Monday, January 10, 2011 11:01

Do you know why science is important to you? You might, and you might not. I would like to pose an introductory question – do you know who Marilyn Monroe is? I'm pretty sure you do. Okay, do you know who Theodore Maiman is? I'm pretty sure you don't; neither did I, until last year.

    In a nutshell, he was the man who invented the laser 50 years ago. Because of Mr. Maiman's invention, we have Blu-Ray's, CD's, self-checkouts at Smith's, Lasik surgery and so much more. Science allows us to turn on lights, fly in airplanes, have personal computers, go to the doctor, and talk on cell phones along with so many other things that are such a part of our daily interactions. Science has changed the world whether we recognize those changes or not.

    Now, how has Marilyn Monroe changed the world? For a select few of you, perhaps she has … in some random way.

    I am concerned that people put more focus on the short-lived glory of actors and actresses, sports stars and others who fall into the entertainment category and not enough on people who are changing the way we live. I am concerned that our society is endorsing our fetish with those who are temporarily in the spotlight. A local and personal example of this is the amount charged to each student in fees each semester that goes towards athletics as opposed to any other fee category. In looking over the current breakdown of fees, a student signed up for 13 credit hours pays a total of $123.22 that goes to the Athletic department. That is almost double the amount for the next highest fee which is for buildings. To me, this indicates where the priorities are.

    At USU, there are some awesome things happening in science; allow me to acquaint you with a few of them. A noteworthy monthly event is Science Unwrapped; an event which gives professors or researchers an opportunity to present their ‘specialty' in an engaging way. In a recent Science Unwrapped, the topic was addictions and how those caught in addictions cycle through the same triggers; if one can see and catch the triggers, they have a better chance of breaking the cycle. There is also an award-winning student group on campus known as iGEM. They compete annually in changing known bacteria to act in certain ways that can become useful; ways such as creating special plastics. These plastics are nearly impossible to create in the laboratory, but are absolutely essential when performing surgery. Another group of undergrad students are working with NASA on creating the next generation of space materials. These materials would be used to protect satellites from ‘space weather.' Satellites are part of our lives through satellite TV and GPS systems, in case you were unaware. These are not all the events going on, but I have listed a few that represent the hard work that is going on on many levels.

    Many people think that all the changes that can be made have already been made. In thinking about the things that are going on here on the USU campus, I would have to conclude that there are definitely changes that can be made for the better and there are people making those changes. Scientists are working hard to make our lives easier, better and more comfortable. If you still don't know what you want to do with your life, but you want to be famous, science may not be for you, but if you want to make life better for those around you, science may be a good route to think about.

Michael Stewart is the ASUSU senator for the College of Science.

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