Tuesday, March 11, 2014

And Now We Break For Science

This post has almost nothing to do with Shakespeare, but I think it's an important and related topic that I don't want to go by without a mention.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
-John Keats, Ode To A Grecian Urn
The unexamined life is not worth living.
When I say that the mission statement of this and my other sites is to prove that "Shakespeare makes life better," it is these thoughts that inspired it.

But there are many ways to seek truth and to examine our lives, and our opportunities to do so grew substantially this week with the return of COSMOS, Carl Sagan's legendary trip through the universe, now hosted by his student Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Quite honestly I don't care if you watched it. I'm almost 45 years old, I know what I know, for the most part I've made what marks I'm going to make on the world, and any new knowledge is going to be interesting to me, but I don't expect to reach the stars with it.

Neil Degrasse Tyson puts it all in perspective.
What I care about is whether the kids watch it, because they are the ones who will change the world (sounds exactly like the reason I teach Shakespeare to my kids :)). Tyson himself was inspired by Sagan originally, and we can only hope that a whole new generation of future astrophysicists and Nobel Prize winners is inspired by Tyson.

If you've got kids, did you sit down to watch the show with them? It is available in any number of online formats, so "I missed it Sunday night" will not work.  It was on at 9pm, after my kids' bedtime, but I recorded it and we watched it last night.  The year 1599 came up, and I did pause to comment on what Shakespeare was doing that year. :)

At one point I explained to my kids, "Listen to how this man talks. When we know something he states it like a fact. When we don't, he says we don't. He says things like 'It sounds strange but the observable evidence thus far leads us to believe it must be true.'  That's how science should be.  Question everything."  Tyson showed up once on the Daily Show to tell Jon Stewart that the globe in his opening credits was spinning in the wrong direction. He also told the story for years about meeting Titanic director James Cameron and asking him why, despite all the time and money they spent getting all the facts and details exactly right, that they got the stars in the sky wrong.  Later, in the re-release of the Titanic DVD, the stars were fixed. Mr. Tyson has no interest in letting anyone get away with incorrect science.

Not for you? Then maybe ask your kids whether their science teacher in school brought it up.  If not, maybe ask the science teacher why not.  I know that the wireless network in my daughter's middle school is criminally poor, so they cannot get very much online video, but I plan to download it and bring them each episode on a flash drive if I have to.

Sorry for the interruption, but I simply had to use my soapbox for this very important time in education. The search for knowledge, truth and beauty comes in many forms, not just Shakespeare.

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