Grad 2015: Science for fun and profit

(I was going to call this "Per scientia ad astra" but needed to catch your attention.  The image above is from the Hubble Space Telescope via the European Space Agency)
Step off the podium when you graduate, and you step into the future -- no time machine needed.  
It's a bold future.   Technology now puts more computing power in your smart phone than was available to the Apollo mission when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969.  We've decoded the human genome, and many more are or are being decoded.  We've found ways to find planets beyond our own solar system, and Canadian Ray Jayawardhana has even captured an image of one of these exoplanets.  3D "printing" is in the process of changing manufacturing forever, and hints of Star Trek-type "replicators" are taking shape.  Robotics and remote sensing allow us to explore and map the oceans (Project Neptune in Port Alberni is an example), moon and planets.  Even the fashion industry is now playing with fibres and fabrics engineered for unique properties. 
It's also a challenging future.  We are beginning to grasp the way climate is changing world wide.  Water is becoming a critical commodity, locally and globally.  How will the future be fuelled if we are to safeguard the atmosphere?  Is genetic modification appropriate for agriculture?  How can our human population reach a sustainable balance on our finite, fragile planet?
If you could have your dream career, these are just a fraction of the dreams to explore.
We can have that bright and shining future seen in Star Trek, but there's only one way to get there from here.  It takes work, like daring to learn a branch of science that is so challenging it makes your brain hurt, because when you achieve that goal you gain self-esteem that no-one, ever, can take from you.  Hard work and commitment will get us to that 23rd century.  Wishful thinking won't.
ENGAGE!  You are needed.  Globally, youth have been turning away from the sciences for more than 20 years -- as courses of study, as careers.  Consider the implications for our technology-dependent, rapidly changing world.  Next-generation technology needs someone to design it:  who will be there?  The United Nations is so concerned that it has made science education a priority within the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 
Boots on the ground is more your style?   Maybe you're a good fit with applied sciences like engineering with dozens of branches, or medicine, agriculture and agronomy, fisheries, oceanography, and so many more.  Do you enjoy research and discovery?  That opens onto every branch of science.  Mathematics underpins everything.  Want to inspire others?  Teachers are the warriors in UNESCO's efforts to bring science back to the heart of learning.  Sharing your deep understanding and passion for the sciences will shape the careers of the next generation.
Everything we do, or choose not to do, is woven into the fabric of the future. 
Have fun this summer, exploring.  Access to the internet?  Then you can access ZOONIVERSE, where you (literally) hunt for asteroids, map the Moon, Mars, the Milky Way; view wildlife in  Antarctica, the Serengeti, or even cities; bug collections dating back a century; ancient papyri, war diaries, old weather, bat calls and whale songs.  Or just sit back and watch a movie about science and scientists, like Eddie Redmaynes' amazing performance as Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything", available in video rental or on line. Or put a lawn lounger in the back yard on a summer night and look up at the stars.  You'll see a satellite about every 6 - 10 minutes.  Watch for the International Space Station (it overflies Port Alberni regularly).
Consider science. 
The Latin "scientia" means so much more than "science":   awareness, knowledge, skill, expertise.  They're the way to the stars:  "ad astra."  Boldly go.  Be your own Challenger Expedition.
Per scientia . . . ad astra
Image credit:  ESA/Hubble, NASA, Karl Stapelfeldt (GSFC), B. Stecklum and A. Choudhary (Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany)
Jayawardhana, Ray, Strange New Worlds:  The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond our Solar System.
UNESCO Science Education
Math from the ground up:  Khan Academy
Movies to watch:
The Challenger Expedition
Why Study Engineering?
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