Monday, November 01, 2010

The reason I couldn't attend the Rally to Restore Sanity... (warning: jargon below)

...even though I absolutely, desperately wanted to...

Every year, I have the honor and pleasure to speak at the Science and Technology Forum for the Scholarship of Entrepreneurial Engagement program, sponsored by Ashland University.    This program brings high school students from across the region here together to talk about how they can combine the best of technology and business NOW, before they learn about all the stuff we say they can't do.  These are bright, motivated students, although not all of them are your garden-variety honors kids.  I love them, because they are not satisfied with merely doing well; these kids really do want to shake up the world as we know it.

One of the movies they show each year is called "Shift Happens".  It describes how much the world has changed, not just since we were kids, but since these kids were kids.  We now generate more information in 18 months, for example, than the world did in the previous 5000 years.  Out knowledge and technology doubling time is now six months, which means that, for students entering college today, 75% of what they learned as a freshman will be out of date by the time they are juniors.  Crazy stuff.

Saturday morning, I got to teach these kids a bit of introduction to regenerative medicine.  They are smart:  there is no "Heebie-Jeebie-Embryonic-Stem-Cell-Panic" going on here.  These kids understand the power of growth factors and bioscaffolds and adipose stem cells (yes; your fat makes stem cells.  lots of them.  your fat does make more fat; it wasn't your imagination.  don't you feel better now?).  They can wonder aloud whether donor-specific immune tolerance induction (tricking the body into thinking a transplant actually belongs to you) will completely restore the cancer-fighting capacity of the immune system, versus long-term immune suppression drugs for transplant recipients.  They can draw a line between induced pluripotency (an alternative to using embryonic stem cells that involves turning your cells essentially into mock embryonic cells) and cloning and debate the ethics.  It's a blast, and talking with these students gives me hope for our future.

It may have done more to restore my sanity than any trip to see Messieurs Stewart and Colbert. 

But I still would have liked to see Father Guido.

P.S.  Tomorrow is Election Day.  If it was important to you to vote in 2008, it's just as important to vote this year.  Get your butt out there.


bhd said...

Please rewrite this in English. I'm stupider than your high school students. LOL

enflar: what plants are in springtime in the deep south.

Beanie said...

Dear BHD:

"The kids were totally smart. Smarter than I am. It was a total geek-fest."

How's that?