AAA President Message – December 2020

Happy December everyone!

While this will be the final President’s Message of 2020, it will certainly not be my final message as president, as I have had the honor of being reelected to the position during the November board meeting. I wanted to give a word of thanks for the confidence placed in me, and promise to continue working towards the goal of simultaneously growing AAA while democratizing science for all who are interested.

I know that many of you are eager to see this year put in the books, and then have the books placed into a hermetically sealed container, and for the container to be buried and never found again. While I can certainly empathize with feeling that way, there is something to be said for living through challenging times and coming out the other end stronger and more dedicated. This theme has been endlessly recounted in stories since humans were telling them, and have also made their way into modern pop culture. Whether it is Alfred telling Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “Why do we fall down?” – to which the answer is, “So we can learn to pick ourselves up”, or in Star Trek. There is a Next Generation episode called “Tapestry”, of which I have been giving thought to lately. It shows our intrepid Captain Picard having been injured and near death. In a possibly hallucinogenic dream, or perhaps reality, he is given the chance to redo a tragic event from decades ago that he had always regretted. But by avoiding the event in the redo, he becomes a different man, and one that is not quite as assertive or certain as he had been. In fact, he no longer has what it takes to be captain.

What the episode speaks to, of what goes into creating the “tapestry of life” that makes each of us who we are, is what this year has made me think of. The year began for me with the death of a close family member. Then Covid hit. Then protests. But I was also elected president of AAA. I launched my blog. And the film I produced was released. Ups and downs, ups and downs, but always moving towards the goal of happiness and satisfaction.

That, to me, is what the universe is all about – it started with the inconceivably violent eruption of the Big Bang, yet from that, life on Earth arose.

Humans have just started to harness the ability to understand and appreciate the wonders of the universe – whether violent or gentle, ugly or beautiful, sad or happy. So, while 2020 has certainly been a challenging year for all of us, and particularly tragic for some, science has allowed for vaccines to be produced to remind us that good comes with the bad.

I hope that all of you have a good end to 2020, a better beginning to 2021, and keep in mind that the science that created the universe and exists in each of us will always present challenges, but has also given us the ability to adapt and grow from them.