The contribution of science to modern society is staring us in the face at almost every minute of the day. Mobiles buzzing to wake us in the morning, dressing with synthetic fibres, drinking hybrid disease resistant coffee, chemical reactions inside your car’s catalytic converter… and that’s all before you get into work! It is obvious how science has changed the world we live in but lately I’ve been asking myself the question: Why is science important to me?
Having a life-long disease, medication is the first thing that springs to mind. Without advances in science over the past 50 years, I would have died in childhood. It is thanks to thousands of scientists researching various aspects of my disease that I am alive to write this article. However, having a background in science can also increase frustration when living with any disease. The time between research and practical application seems to grow longer with more obstacles. Growing knowledge can reveal increasingly complex processes and miracle cures can seem even more distant.
Overall, in terms of my disease, science has been vital and gives everyone hope for the future. This is the luxury of having a relatively common illness. A very rare illness is a different kettle of fish. I have close experience of the lack of scientific knowledge about a disease that devastates families but is so rare that only a handful of labs around the world are glancing at it. No tailored medication, no clinical trails. An unbelieveable contrast. But saying all this, I feel science still plays an important part as rare diseases can sometimes piggy back on technologies and information gained from other research.
But despite having the ultimate reason for science to be important to me i.e. not being here without it, this is not what inspired me to keep asking questions as a child. Unlike other subjects, topics and institutions, science never answered with “Because that’s the way it is”. Answers were fascinating and unimaginable. Answers led to more questions. Answers were adapted as more knowledge was collected. Answers weren’t written in stone. As with science, I’m sure my answer to the “why” will adapt and change as my knowledge grows but one fact will remain constant: Science is of fundamental importance to me!
Why is science important to you? If you would like to contribute to this series, comment below or email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming soon on Science Calling (27th Feb – 2nd March): A week-long special on the topic of gender stereotyping featuring guest posts & personal stories. Close to your heart? Let me know if you’d like to participate in this group of posts.