Ben had never been in a meeting where creationists testified about things like the secret science that the scientists didn't know about before. He had never seen his public officials insult students and criticize Nobel laureate scientists as people who only had "little letters behind their names." He took notes on claims made by creationist so he could correct the record. Our elected officials did not allow that.
Ben told me that before the meeting, he "saw the Senators and respected them as smart, capable leaders." He became disillusioned after they aggressively attacked scientists and voted against science, and said,
"However, when they opened their mouths, everything changed; they obviously had no idea what they were talking about... I felt deceived all these years."
Our generation can't hope and wait for for our leaders to do the right thing. We can't wait for them to decide whether they want students to learn science. We must speak out and be that change.
I asked Ben about many of our classmates at Rice, who are brilliant scientists, but apathetic about politics, he said, "Unfortunately science policy is frequently not in the minds of STEM oriented students. Many of these students are excited to do science and are uninterested in the political circus that controls science and technology funding."
Our classmates and students around the country must recognize that science policy does affect them. That is why Ben and I are launching a grassroots student movement to help inspire humankind's Second Giant Leap.
We are calling a permanent end to legislation, like the creationism law in Louisiana that promotes science denial. We are calling for 1 trillion dollars of new funding for scientific research and development over the next decade.
In an article for Richard Dawkins' website, Ben said, "We cannot even conceive how technology will change our species over the next million years -- a melancholy thought for those, like me, who want to be there to experience it."
Even if we won't be around in a million years, every one of us has the power to help humankind take a giant leap. Ben described the future he envisions after this movement:
"We have started to crack the human genetic code and put super computers in everyone's pocket. This is just the beginning. Evacuated Tube Transport technology has the potential to reinvent transportation and physically connect the world. Major killers like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS may soon be a thing of the past."
But he notes none of this will come to pass, "without the support of government policy and the public." We need students to stand up and speak out. We need the support of politicians and teachers. We need celebrities and scientists. We must call on our leaders to take another giant leap.
There is hope for the future though, as Ben says,
"Humanity is still so young. Even with all of our advancements we're still just animals surviving on our small rock of a planet. However, we are on the cusp of a new tier of civilization. We have globalized communication, and we are working on globalizing transportation, solving renewable energy, manipulating our own genetics, exploring our solar system, and curing our most dangerous diseases."
We need a Second Giant Leap. Join our movement and spread the word!
Follow Zack Kopplin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zackkopplin