Science is Fun(damental)

We went to the California Academy of Science Museum yesterday, something I’ve been wanting to do all year. There is nothing quite like going into a science museum, a feeling even the amazing New York Guggenheim Art Museum doesn’t match. It’s a truly pure and matchless learning experience, no matter what age, and a great science museum (such as the Natural History Museum in NYC) can be life affirming in a way that art can’t even touch.

(Pathetically, some wackjobs think ‘museum’ is a synonym for “Fairy Tale Land”.)

I have two very young nephews and one major concern I have for them both is that they live in a city that lacks a proper science museum (the college art museum is pretty nice for a little town in Kansas). In a country that has politicized a simple thing such as basic science education, I’m a bit terrified for the younger generations who may have their education hijacked, not because their teachers are dumb or evil, but because a small minority has managed to equate “Science” with “Elitism” and being a Democrat (clearly the one great ill of our world). I can understand (with chagrin) that certain religious people who choose to view their holy texts literally would have a problem with the Established, Supported, Testable theory (not guess) of Natural Selection (and, by extension, the fact of evolution), but somehow embracing science in all its many facets has become a question of politics. Republicans are against it, Democrats are for it. Obviously, that is a gross generalization, and I by no means believe it’s that simple, but you will notice when congressmen are interviewed on areas of scientific inquiry, pretty much invariably, it’s the Republican ones who act like science is a semi-useful, almost archaic form of learning and it should not be trusted too much, lest it bother their fundamentalist constituents.

If you don’t trust science, here’s some advice for you: Get off the computer, step away from your TV, stop taking advil for your headaches (don’t go to hospitals at all for that matter), put away your phone, leave your house, don’t go near your car, don’t walk on any cement sidewalks, don’t use any indoor plumbing, don’t eat food from a grocery store or a farmer’s market or any restaurant, don’t take an Ipod with you, don’t grab a book off of your shelf, don’t worry about germs or any diseases and don’t even think about catching an episode of Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck. Those are all luxuries of scientific advancements (though, considering the last 2, I guess what they say is right: Science can lead to great evil.)

For everyone else, science is a wonderful gift, and the science museum is a pleasure I hope every child gets to experience at least once (a month).

The CASM isn’t the greatest museum I’ve been in, by a long shot, and it was too busy to see some of the exhibits. We were too late to get tickets for the Planetarium (I really wanted to go), and the line for the Rain Forest was ridiculously long, plus we had other things to do that day. Still, I enjoyed the museum, especially the aquarium (can’t wait to go to the Shedd once we’re in Chicago), and I got a view pictures before the batteries died, and one kind of cool video.

Sadly, I missed an opportunity to get video of an octopus flexing it’s tentacles and pulsing it’s body in one of the coolest undersea displays I’ve ever gotten to see in person. PZ Myers would have been impressed. Alas, I’ll just have to store the information in my brain. Hopefully it doesn’t crash.

Now some pictures:

(And one video: probably better to watch it without sound.)