This title might look like a random list to some people, but to me they are related in the following way: After I had kids I became more interested in dinosaurs and planets. This in turn reminded me that knowledge is expanding and important for survival.
When my eldest son turned 3, he developed a fascination with dinosaurs. I followed him on his journey and discovered that there are so many more dinosaur species now than when I was a kid. I grew up thinking there were a handful of species, like T-Rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus and Pterodactyl. My son, now 6, rattles off names like Corythosaurus, Spinosaurus, Archeopteryx and Parasaurolophus. He knows about their habitats and corrects me when I get things wrong. Ah, okay then.
The fact is, Paleontologists keep discovering more species. A quick google search returns results claiming that 700 to 900 more dinosaur genera may remain to be discovered. 700–900 more species? Wow. Kids nowadays have so many more options when it comes to dinosaurs. It is way more fun!
My younger son, now 4, loves planets. When I was a kid I knew all of the planets in our solar system, and yes, Pluto was still a planet. Now, my younger son includes dwarf planets, the moons of Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, and exoplanets, which are planets that orbit other stars, when naming worlds beyond our own. We watch youtube videos about planets made of diamond, planets with acid rain, and planets that could support life, because they are in the goldilocks zone, which means they are not too hot and not too cold. Maybe someday, our descendants will make it to one of those planets.
Before I had kids, I didn’t really get excited about science fiction. Now, in my limited spare time, I actually do. I watched the movie, Arrival, which was awesome, and read Foundation by Isaac Asimov. This may be less highbrow, but I also read an Amazon series called The Rho Agenda by Richard Phillips and am patiently waiting for The Altreian Enigma to come out this December so I can download it to my kindle. Having kids has compelled me to read more articles by futurists and follow subjects like artificial intelligence, the fourth industrial revolution, basic income guarantees, and so on.
My kids' interests remind me that our collective knowledge is always growing and always changing. My kids themselves force me to think about the future and about what kind of world we will leave for them. It’s heavy stuff and my brain would short circuit if I had to dwell on it all the time. I’m hoping that scientists and intellectuals will keep figuring it out, and that the public will be on their side.
On a lighter note, I have an idea for a sci-fi novel, if anyone would like to take it up. Here it is. Dinosaurs died out because the earth was hit by an asteroid, intentionally directed by advanced humans. The advanced humans were searching for a new home, having polluted their old planet to the point of being uninhabitable or having destroyed it through warfare. Some of them came to earth, but unfortunately their collective knowledge was lost or buried, and they had to start over from scratch. The others managed to continue their journey to another planet, where they remain today. To be continued …