A Love of Science

When I wrote my autobiography, My Lifelong Fight Against Disease: From Polio and AIDS to COVID-19, I wrote it with both adults and young readers in mind. In fact, I’m already working on a shortened version of the book specifically for children age 10 to 15. Childhood and adolescence can be challenging times. For many of us, that period in our lives comes with a sense of powerlessness—an inability to steer the course of our own lives, much less make a difference in the world around us. But the wonder of science is that it can allow anyone—even a very young or disenfranchised person—to improve their own life and make a positive difference in the lives of thousands, even millions, of those around them.

I was lucky to have understood the power of science from a very young age. For most of my youth, I lived on a naval weapons research base in South Central California—a small, remote community populated with a mix of stellar scientists and daredevil aces who had battled Russian and Chinese pilots on the Korean War. My father was a gifted physicist and the parents of many of my friends were equally accomplished scientists and engineers, all of them part of an elite team tasked by the government with developing U.S. Navy weapons. Watching them work, I learned early on that one person, with the right energy, enthusiasm, and vision, can make a big difference in the lives of their country though science alone.

But science as a discipline is agnostic. It is a tool. How do you direct that tool? For my father, and for his colleagues, their scientific excellence was directed toward protecting our nation at war. For me, as I matured and followed a life of science myself, I was directed by my understanding of human need—where society has been, where it is going, and what people need. These insights came from understanding my fellow humans as broadly and deeply as possible.

If pursued properly science can answer truly important questions. What question are you trying to answer? If you are good at it, science can help you write the solution.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.