Laura Goodall is a science communicator with a background in human genetics. She currently works at Science Photo Library and in her spare time she freelances as a science writer. She is also Publications Secretary at the British Science Association’s Central London branch, Science London, and a contributor at WeBlogScience.com
Science is important because it creates opportunities in life that make us who we are. Science has given us choices that we now take for granted.
For me, this is particularly relevant because I was born partially deaf and wear hearing aids. Both the advanced medical techniques that identified which frequencies my hearing lacks and the innovative engineering of hearing devices that reinstated these frequencies meant that I now have the same opportunities as hearing people throughout my life. My peers forget that I am hard of hearing and think of me as the same as them. I also take my ability to hear for granted, but without the science behind my hearing aids, I wouldn’t even BE the person that I am today. Similarly, if it wasn’t for the scientific research and development behind eyewear, artificial limbs, pacemakers, hip replacements and so on, most people would be struggling with life as they know it now.
Even the lucky few of us who are fully able-bodied have had opportunities elicited by scientific innovation, shaping them as individuals. Thanks to progressively more sophisticated transport and communication technologies, we can talk to someone on the other side of the world just by logging onto the internet, and we can immerse ourselves in an entirely different culture thousands of miles away within just a few hours. Without science we would all still be limited to talking to locals in villages on our small island, but now we have a choice between that life and a life of meeting people from different backgrounds and appreciating the great diversity of cultures on this planet.
The opportunities presented by science also extend far beyond our personal boundaries. As many have said before me on this website, humans as a species are intrinsically curious and science provides us with increasingly more advanced tools for exploration. It allows us to look at the interactions of human societies in the world as well as investigate the non-human aspects of nature, and to try and answer the core question about our existence: “where do we fit in, in the big picture?”
We’ve even extended this curiosity to realms outside of Earth: stellar systems that may house Earth-like planets have already been identified, and radio signals are being emitted deep into outer space in the hope that an intelligent life form will communicate with us. Perhaps this scientific exploration will eventually lead to us having a choice of either remaining here on Earth or moving to a new planet with an entirely alien ecosystem, which will open doors to a whole host of new opportunities for us.