For people whose everyday lives exist outside of the scientific world, there comes a time every now and then when you hear a piece of news that makes you suddenly realize how fast science is happening.
We rarely hear about the scientific progress that leads to a major breakthrough. Instead, we’re sitting at our desk in the morning sipping our 9 a.m. coffee, and an alert comes up on our phone that we have invented a time machine.
My first response after reading about most scientific discoveries is: “Wait, seriously? I didn’t even know we were trying to do that.”
Like cloning sheep. Or self-driving cars. One day they’re the stuff of science-fiction movies, and next thing you know, it’s happening in real life. What happened to the in between?
It’s easy to forget that millions of scientists are working around on the clock, every day, to advance science. As we speak, there’s some frustrated chemist in a laboratory, on day #894 of some ambitious experiment.
These people don’t get much credit unless they solve something big, but they’re the ones who will increase our knowledge of the world.
How else would we have discovered, for example, that there might be seven new planets within our own galaxy?
Well, last week I heard about something else that helped me appreciate the amazing capabilities of contemporary science. Apparently, we’re trying to resurrect the woolly mammoth.
That’s right. Before long, 20th Century Fox will have to market the animated movie “Ice Age” as a nonfiction film.
I mean, just the fact that this is possible is mind-blowing. Although, it occurs to me that before I get excited about the possibility of one day seeing a woolly mammoth in person, that I’m ridiculously far behind in the numbers of existing animals that I have seen with my own eyes, in their natural habitat.
In fact, other than the common domesticated pets like cats and gerbils, suburban-roaming raccoons, possums and squirrels, and the obvious birds and insects, what animals have most people who aren’t zoologists seen up close?
I’ve never seen a rhino. Or a giraffe. Or a tiger or a lion. Or even a freaking elephant, let alone a woolly mammoth. As far as my personal experiences are concerned, 95% of animals might as well be extinct. The only evidence I have that they’re real is what I see on my TV or my computer.
So hearing that we may bring back one species helps me appreciate how many existing animals I still need to see.
But that doesn’t make this woolly mammoth news any less cool. Apparently, though the science is becoming more and more possible, scientists are grappling with the question of whether they should devote resources to resurrecting extinct species, or towards saving ones that are on the verge of being eradicated.
Basically, we’re playing God. Which always ends up well in every science-fiction story.
So I’m making it a personal goal of mine to see an elephant sometime in my lifetime. And then I’ll begin to open up to the possibility of one day seeing a woolly mammoth. Or I’ll just watch Ice Age again. I never tire of hearing Ray Romano’s voice.
One animal we will all get to see tonight is a bulldog, as the Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA championship. Yes that was a terrible segue, and yes, I am equally as unsure what the hell a Tar Heel is.
Since my bracket has long been busted and I have no financial interest in this game, I am officially going to endorse Gonzaga to win. Go Zags. (They won’t win now).
Lastly, today was a beautiful day if you love baseball. The season got underway on Sunday, and my cherished Mets continued their historic opening day dominance with a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. Hopefully the beginning of what will be a very successful season.
At the very least, I truly pray that I will see a Mets’ World Series before I see a woolly mammoth.