2019 Drake Lecture – The Importance of Science and Science Education

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Speaking to a near-capacity auditorium at the Green Bank Science Center, 2019 Drake Lecture awardee and Science Friday host Ira Flatow presented compelling reasons for the importance of science, science education, and scientific research to humankind.

Recounting his own struggles with science in college (he passed chemistry, though he admits the grade that was required for passing would not put him in the running for a Nobel Prize), Mr. Flatow discussed that most science is not learned through school and  books, but is instead a life-long accumulation of knowledge gained through both hands-on learning and every day experiences. Using examples from TV advertising and film, Ira entertained the audience while providing clear proof that even advertising executives understand the high level of interest society has in science. Examples included a tire ad featuring a scientist driving to a conference thinking about her presentations and work and not thinking about her tires (which, presumably are so good she does not need to think about them). Another ad for a British car manufacturer has Steven Hawking, hawking cars (yes, that is one of Ira’s “dad jokes” – something that regular Science Friday listeners will instantly identify with).

Throughout his talk, entitled “Science Journey: Forty Years of Lessons Learned”, Mr. Flatow emphasized the importance of science. The search – and the “re-search” – process behind all scientific discoveries is the same process that drives all of our curiosity and desire to learn.

Want to learn more about Ira Flatow and Science Friday? You can follow Ira Flatow (@iraflatow) and Science Friday (@scifri) on Twitter.

Keep up with the goings on at the Green Bank Observatory and the Science Center through our social media: @GreenBankObservatory on Facebook, and @grnbnktelescope on Twitter.

Ira Flatow is the host of Science Friday, heard on public radio stations across the country and distributed by WNYC Studios. He anchors the show each Friday, bringing radio and Internet listeners worldwide a lively, informative discussion on science, technology, health, space, and the environment. Ira is also founder and president of the Science Friday Initiative, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit company dedicated to creating radio, TV, and Internet projects that make science “user-friendly.”

Dr. Frank Drake, the Lectureship’s namesake, has had a long and distinguished career that began at the Observatory in Green Bank. His scientific achievements include discovery of the radiation belts of Jupiter, and the measurements and characterization of the radio sources at the center of the Milky Way. He also contributed to our understanding of the high surface temperature of Venus. In 1960, using a radio telescope at Green Bank, he made the first modern search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, He thus began an area of scientific research that has continued and is flourishing today, engaging creative minds worldwide.