I thought my first memory was of my grandfather who died when I was just 3½. Then I read a Facebook post written by my husband, and his words returned me to a moment in time a year earlier.
It was the autumn of 1957, and I was not quite 2 ½. I have a vague memory of my dad holding me in his arms on our driveway and pointing skyward as the Soviet satellite Sputnik passed over our house. This was the beginning of the space race.
According to a statement made after the launch by The Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Observatory, “It’s a great triumph for science. It’s the opening of a new era.”
The post my husband wrote was provoked by our current president pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord this past week, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron inviting our scientists and citizens to relocate to France.
“To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them, come and work here with us to work together on concrete solutions for our planet, our environment. I can assure you France will not give up the fight.”
My husband was both furious and worried that many of the world’s great minds will no longer come to America, but instead, will decide to bring their talents to other, more welcoming, nations. He wrote:
Mr. President, our Germans are better than their Germans”.
In the movie “The Right Stuff” this was a line that was said by Werner von Braun to the President. This was a time in the world when the two super powers were advancing technology at a competitive pace. Both the United States and the USSR were in a race to space—first to launch a man to orbit the earth and then the race to the moon. Neither country did this alone.
At the end of the Second World War, a group of German scientists working on rocket system technology ended up working on the US space program, while another group of Germans ended up working for the Soviet Union. Werner von Braun was the leader of the group that came to the United States and was instrumental in helping us win the race to the moon.
The computers that were invented for the space program have been advanced by people in this country, with the help of the smartest minds in the world. Both the United States and Russia had the potential to be the leaders of the technical evolution of the last 75 years. Why has the US advanced while Russia has not?
No country can advance science alone. We need to collaborate with the great minds of the world. The United States has continued to be the epicenter for scientific and technological advances because the great minds of the world have come to this country to be part of these advances.
We have always welcomed these people, and we have always embraced science and development. On June 1, 2017, the United States told the world that we will go it alone. All you great minds of the world go someplace else.
That was the day the President of the United States turned off the flow of information with the world. This is exactly what Russia did and why Russia has developed no products, and why Russia doesn’t even own the technology to drill for all of its oil.
This is our future if we don’t wake up and say no to ignorance.
I truly believe that the words and action of one man and his followers do not reflect the beliefs of the majority of Americans, and I do not understand why science and the health of our planet should be political. Does the world know this?