Letter: Everything depends on science | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Everything depends on science

Everything depends on science

I admit it. I love science. It influences everything I experience in life. Formulas, equations, graphs and charts are certainly intriguing, but what truly fascinates me stretches light years beyond that. Science is the engine that drives new knowledge. Knowledge opens doors for new technologies. Technology development embraces new pathways to innovation in medical research, environmental studies, entertainment, food production, communications and understanding our universe. It also creates the jobs of the future.

With this in mind, my love for science goes much deeper than just employment. Science accounts for everything that exists in the universe. The majestic Maroon Bells — that’s geology. The music we hear is a mixture of varying wavelengths of energy passing by our ears — that’s physics. The food we love is a creative experiment that happens every night in kitchen laboratories — that’s chemistry. Paintings that assault our brain and stimulate our soul — that’s physiology. When you feel an energy surge hiking through the woods, everything green around you is pouring out clean, pure oxygen, and you are breathing it in — that’s botany at work for you. The streams we hike along or fish are alive with bottom-dwelling, creepy-crawly Lilliputian monsters that morph into gorgeous purple, sapphire-blue or pomegranate-red, flying, eating machines during summer. That’s entomology. The gorgeous rings that surround Saturn — that’s astronomy.

Right now, 3.5 billion miles away, a spacecraft, smaller in size than a baby grand piano, is carrying a Colorado-made student instrument that will pass over the surface of Pluto on the morning of July 14. It has taken my NASA team more than eight years to reach this destination. Traveling at the speed of light, it takes four hours for a message sent from the New Horizons spacecraft to reach Earth. However, living here in the Aspen area under gorgeous, dark skies, my mind soars beyond Pluto to the countless stars that sparkle above. Recent estimates tell us that every one of them may harbor one or two Earth-like planets orbiting them. More exciting, they may be worlds with oxygen in their atmospheres, indicating there is life on them. Within the next two decades, this discovery will change our lives forever. It most certainly will come from the generation of students sitting in our classrooms today. That’s why it is paramount we establish a world-class science center here in Aspen!

The future of our planet and understanding our place in the universe may depend on it. When I think of all the opportunities and natural-beauty resources we have on hand before us, my heart says “Aspen.” That’s the place where the real stars come out at night!

David A. Aguilar

Aspen Science Center board member

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