Thank you, Shuri

I love science.

So do a lot of people. Some of them aren’t old white men like me. In fact, a lot of them — and more now than ever before — are young, or African or Asian or native American or aboriginal Australian. And more and more of them are women. Together, we make up my team.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy super-hero stories like we’ve seen so much of in movies lately. It’s surprising how often super-hero teams include a scientist, and super-heroes themselves are scientists. You like Iron Man? Scientist. You admire the incredible Hulk? Scientist. You dig Batman? Scientist. You love spider-man? Even before he was spidey, you’d find him in the physics department.

We work together. We help each other and we help others. We don’t just fight injustice. We cure diseases, feed the hungry, comfort the sick, help preserve the beauty that nature blesses the world with. Science makes us able to do these things. It gives us immense power.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

Science can be used for good or for evil. We choose good over evil, and that is what makes super-heroes.

We need all the help we can get. That’s why I’m so glad that popular culture now calls to all people, all colors, all genders and ages, to join team science. THIS IS MY TEAM. I am not part of team “white guys” or even team “guys”, I’m not team nerd, I’m part of team science. Join us!

And one of my favorites, scientist par excellence, is Shuri: the scientist-sister of T’Challa, the super-hero called Black Panther. The actress who portrays her in the movie (Letitia Wright) not only gives an inspiring (and entertaining!) performance, she also understands the power she possesses to inspire today’s youth to become tomorrow’s scientists, to wield this awesome power with great responsibility. This inspiration isn’t about black or white, young or old, male or female. It’s about humans — all of us. As Letitia Wright said herself:

I’m proud to be a young black girl doing this, but also as much as this is for young black women to be inspired, [it’s for] all women of all ethnicities, of all races to be inspired. And young boys too, young men too from all walks of life to be inspired by this film.

I’m on her team. She’s on my team. And yes, Letitia, I not only enjoyed the movie, I was inspired. This old white guy was inspired. Thank you.

If you want to be a real super-hero, I have some advice.

First, HIT THE BOOKS. Learn your way around the lab. DO THE MATH. Learn how nature works, then learn some more. Shuri didn’t invent all those technological miracles with just strength and courage. She needed knowledge, lots of it. It’s not the easy stuff, it’s the hard-work stuff. To be a super-hero scientist, learn the science, discover new science, and be prepared that this is incredibly difficult and complicated — but with hard work and you best brain power, YOU CAN DO IT. When the going gets tough (and believe me, it will), reach deep into your soul for your inner Iron Man, your inner Hulk. Find your inner Shuri — and you will find that those who try to serve themselves with what they think is their God-like strength, turn out to be puny Gods.

Second, with great power comes great responsibility. Science can make us powerful, but it doesn’t make us good. We have to choose, and that too can be very difficult. Study a real-life super-hero, who wasn’t a scientist but was a great soul. Fred Rogers. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Won’t you be my neighbor?

9 responses to “Thank you, Shuri

  1. My take is always the late Carl Sagan’s take, and the related take by Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson,that the Earth and the Universe are way too hostile for us to be splitting ourselves into mutually exclusive tribes. We can cooperate and, per E.O.Wilson, many un-genetically-related species have discovered, without having intelligence as we describe it, that cooperation is an evolutionary win. Indeed, for macrobiota, apart from predator-prey relationships, it tends to be the norm.

  2. Apropos finding things out — do you have any say in which ads WordPress runs on your site? I ask because so far all I’ve seen is bogus clickbait, as though they thing your audience is a high value target for purveyors of scam ads by fake doctors and the like. The exercise of checking them gets darn tiresome, I admit.

    • This puzzles me, Hank, as for whatever reason I *never* see any advertising here whatever. But I have a WordPress account–can that be the reason? Maybe you should try creating an ’empty’ blog? (Of course, then WordPress will spam you from time to time to get you to upgrade to ‘pro.’)

      • For whatever reason I don’t get any ads at all. …Well except to buy Tamino’s Noise book!

        I do use a blocker and a VPN and hide from google as much as possible (e.g., duckduckgo).

    • Just install an adblocker (ublock origin is good because it’s not in league with ‘approved’ advertisers). Then you don’t see any ads anywhere – just the stuff you wanted to read. Privacy badger to keep the trackers out too is a good idea.

    • russellseitz

      As I honestly didn’t know Open Mind has ads, I must commend WIPR as one powerful good blocking ap.

    • FWIW.
      Ads help pay for the content.
      I run an add blocker but have it turned off for sites such as this.
      The very occasional click though helps offset Taminos costs.
      Ads are generated by an algorithm based on your previous browsing history. What you see is due to your own actions not Taminos.

  3. Iron Man and Batman are more engineers than scientists.

  4. Martin Smith

    “Iron Man and Batman are more engineers than scientists.” I guess that’s a symptom of why “normal” people have come to think of a scientist is someone who is elite. What if an angry white guy, who lives in Arizona, starts getting bouts of atrial fibrillation every summer during the hottest weather. He doesn’t want his health insurance premium to go up, so he doesn’t go to the doctor; he decides to figure it out himself. He fires up the old PC and goes online. He googles “atrial fibrillation, causes,” and he gets a list of sources. He decides he’ll trust the elitist assholes at the Mayo Clinic just this once. He reads their page on A-fib causes and, one by one, he eliminates the ones he knows don’t apply to him. then he comes to: dehydration. He thinks: “I live in the middle of a dessert. Maybe dehydration is a problem for me. Instead of that pint of Ten High every day, I’ll drink water and see what happens. He starts drinking water, and he doesn’t get A-fib for the rest of the summer. But he goes back on the Ten High, and next summer, the A-fib returns when it gets hot. He remembers what drinking water did last summer, so he tries it again. It works again. He decides: Dehydration is causing my atrial fibrillation.

    Isn’t that science? Shouldn’t we be encouraging normal people to BE scientists by explaining how they can DO science, and probably do DO science in their lives of quiet desperation?