Photo courtesy of @rbhinkley
Yesterday I attended the Science Is Vital rally outside the Treasury building in Westminster. It was jolly good fun as you can see from the expression on my face, although I was BLOODY NERVOUS! We had some great speakers and a buzzing atmosphere and there was a massive sense of good humour, despite the seriousness of the subject.
We were protesting to try and prevent the disastrous list of cuts to the science industry in the UK, a country which doesn’t spend a particularly high amount on science in the first place, but due to the innovative and creative nature of UK scientists achieve so much more than the stuffs they’ve got to work with.
Britain has produced some of the best scientists in world history. Here are some of my favourite examples:
Isaac Newton: Apparently the apple didn’t actually land on his head, he just saw an apple fall off a tree and thought “Hmm… that’s weird. Why did it fall down? Does everything fall down? What about the moon and planets and stars?” and then laid the foundations of modern physics, mathematics and philosophy, and is probably one of the most influential people to have ever lived. End of.
Rosalind Franklin: Developed carbon fibre technology in the 1940s and X-Ray diffraction in the 1950s. Without her contributions, we wouldn’t have as broad an understanding of DNA or carbon fibre toilet seats.
Edward Jenner: Developed the world’s first (official) vaccine. Because of his work, we have completely eradicated smallpox, and were well on our way to getting rid of measles, mumps and rubella until an ongoing media circus (still alive and well according to @giagia’s Twitter stream this morning) was partly responsible for parents failing to immunise their children. Here’s a list of side effects of measles if you decide to not immunise children. Immunisation is a Good Thing. Got it?
William Jessop: One for my Croydon Massive. He built (arguably) the first ever railway in my fair hometown. Check out the rest of his achievements via Wiki. Pretty impressive. National Rail and London Transport are far from perfect these days, but the fact that we have these networks in place at all is something quite special to me – as a non-driver, I think sometimes I take our rail system for granted.
Stephen Hawking: Science communicator extraordinaire. His work has been enthusing young physicists for decades. If you haven’t already done so, go and read A Brief History of Time. My copy is full of pencilled in notes of ideas for songs, short stories and general “Awesome!” and “Wow, really?” scribbles. Famously quoted as saying “The human race has no future if it doesn’t go into space.” Perhaps, like me then, also a fan of Stargate SG1.
Charles Darwin: Looked at the evidence and suggested that all life on earth has evolved over billions of years. Proof that all great men should have beards. I could write an epic tome on his work, but luckily he already has a fanclub.
Ernest Rutherford: Widely considered to be the father of nuclear physics. He’s the one what split the atom. Arguably, his work has since been used for political gain and could end up destroying the planet. But still, he split an atom. An atom. I have trouble cutting a cake into equal slices sometimes.
Charles Babbage: Rhymes with cabbage. Devised the first concept of a programmable computer. Without which, we might never have been blessed with the brilliance of…
Alan Turing: Inventor of the Turing Machine and puzzle fanatic. His contributions truly shaped the face of the world as we know it today, from breaking Nazi ciphers during WW2 to planting the seeds of modern computing today. Look at me, texting on my iPhone, blogging on my netbook. Amazing.
Ada Lovelace: My bestest ever scientist. Just look at her picture, doesn’t it inspire you to wear more lace and sip tea and partake in a bit of online gaming, using the household wireless broadband connection? The patron saint of computer programming, she is widely considered to have written the first algorithm to be processed by a machine. No Ada, no Street Fighter Turbo II. Simple as.
This is just a tiny list of Brits that have done the world proud. There are thousands more developing cures for serious diseases, researching alternative energy sources for when the oil runs out, and generally building a better world for the future. If you really want to show your support for those with breast cancer, or alzheimers, or just can’t wait for your flying jetpack, then by all means tell the world what colour your bra is or wear a pretty ribbon, but please sign the petition and tell all your friends to do the same.
This is not just about saving the UK economy, or sharks with laser beams attached to their heads, it’s about the future of the whole planet – one that the next generation of science groupies will rave about just like I am here. Please join me and support the campaign!