This photo shows a small portion of the crowd. People kept arriving in the rain. Some reports said around 10,000 but I thought
it was much more.
The rain became
incessant but I was kept dry by that great
.scientific invention, Goretex. At intervals, music was provided by Stay
Human, Colbert’s Late Show band. With
band leader Jon Baptiste’s fantastic piano talent, lots of brass and saxophones
playing rhythmy blues jazz, I had no complaints. Acting as host was Veritasium creator, Derek
Muller. He introduced a whole series of
young people who were doing research. The
emphasis was on how much the research
could benefit us all. Every mention of
possible benefit was vigorously cheered.
Many women and people of color, including a former astronaut, were
presented to show the diversity among scientists and to promote
recruitment. This was augmented by folks
from the ever expanding letter sequence, LGBTQ, including one trans-man, also
vigorously cheered upon self-declaration.
The inclusiveness of scientific research message was in parallel with
the message that science will save us all.
Derek Muller himself seemed to put some counterbalance by admitting that
applied science also caused our present plight of pollution, global warming and
weaponry. He says we must know both these sides of science. I believe it was he that made some mention of
the benefit of something outside science, i.e., literature. So science isn’t everything. One speaker that stood out for me was Dr.
Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who blew the whistle on the lead pollution
in the drinking water. For her, it was
science that was the tool that revealed the problem. She then brought out a little girl from Flint
who talked about the water tasting bad and burning her skin, and how science
could help the people of Flint. I
suppose the Republican governor would call that playing dirty and
politicizing. Well, screw him. The photo shows the doctor supporting the
little girl as she spoke standing on a box so as to clear the podium. She started out shy but once she started, she
cranked on to the end, getting more and more confident until she waved and
smiled at the end. Some of the water on
my jacket was too salty to be rain. So
that covers the message that “Science is beneficial, inclusive and
diverse”. Next, I’ll cover some of the
heavy hitter speakers and themes which I might characterize as “Science is more
American than apple pie”. Lord, I wish
Unagidon were writing this. Such depth compared to my cartoon mind.