Hello, and welcome to “Science: Candle In The Dark”, a new monthly (last Tuesday of each month, at 3:30 PM) conversation about science on KFCF Free Speech Radio, 88.1FM, Fresno’s Pacifica-affiliated community radio station. In association with the Central Valley Café Scientifique, we intend to make science part of our public discourse in California’s Central Valley.
I’m your host, Dr. Madhusudan Katti, from the Biology Department at Fresno State. I am a birdwatcher and an evolutionary ecologist by training, and my own research addresses ways to reconcile biodiversity conservation with human development on this increasingly human-dominated planet of ours.
It was astronomer Carl Sagan, America’s chief science teacher of the 20th century, who described science as a candle in the dark. Science illuminates our way through this indifferent universe, and chases away the demons of irrationality that haunt us in the dark of ignorance. Now in the 21st century, we must hold aloft this candle against strange winds of political illogic that have only grown stronger in the decades since Sagan’s passing.
As even Thomas Jefferson understood, a well-informed citizenry that understands science is crucial to a democracy. This is especially true now when our lives are dominated by the technological fruits of science and the corporations that market them. A good understanding of science even helps us make informed decisions about a variety of things affecting our daily lives, from the foods we eat to the medicines we take to the gadgets we use.
Yet science remains elusive to most ordinary citizens. It is often taught as a body of arcane knowledge requiring specialized training rather than as the active human pursuit that it is: simply the best way we have invented to understand our universe.
Science is not just a practical tool to help us live our daily lives, or to run our democracies, or to save the planet.
We must remember before all else that science is motivated by wonder, by that playfully insatiable curiosity about the universe we are all born with, but which we somehow lose through the course of our education into serious adulthood. Science is fun, and we will try to remind you of that every month as we meet with scientists who will share the excitement of their discoveries with all of us through this program. Rather than be ruled by fear and suspicion which hold us back, let us all share in the wonder of science!
I founded the Central Valley Café Scientifique in the autumn of 2007. Inspired by a growing movement of similar cafés worldwide, this monthly event is rather like a poetry reading for science. It has become a regular feature of Fresno’s cultural calendar, much like Art-Hop and other events.
The Café meets on the first Monday of each month during the school year (we professors take the summer off to do more research) at 7PM in Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno. For more information about the Café and announcements about upcoming events, please visit our website at valleycafesci.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. And join us for a pint of the fine brews on tap at Peeve’s Pub with a hearty helping of science to nourish your mind.
Tune in to 88.1FM (or click on the link for a lifestream) at 3:30PM (Pacific time) on every last Tuesday of the month for another episode of Science: A Candle In The Dark. The show will also be available as a podcast shortly after it airs. Stay tuned here for further announcements about the podcast, and upcoming guests and topics.