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Science in Dallas

Science in Dallas

My wife and I and 2,000 other invited guests attended last night’s gala at Dallas’ state-of-the-art Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which formally opens next month. The museum’s 180,000 square feet of exhibit and education space was generously sprinkled with scores of bars and food tables, with first-class services from the hundreds of valet parkers, security people, food and drink servers, musicians, a small army that made this big-as-Texas celebration really special.

Sure it was a high-consumption evening, but for a great cause – nature and man’s endless quest to understand her. To me, the Perot museum and last night’s party are both flashy, Dallas-style songs of praise for natural science and for the men, women and students who love nature and continue to make the discoveries that change our lives. This user-friendly science palace, sponsored by high-prestige Texans, may even blunt attacks on natural science which doesn’t easily fit religious or political beliefs. There is an ongoing controversy in the Texas Board of Education about teaching creationism as a scientific alternative to evolution ideas accepted by Earth scientists. The Perot “Discovering Life Hall” treats evolution of species as scientific fact, without even a nod to supernatural causes, and offers clever, hands-on tools to help students understand how animals evolve in changing environments.

Oil and gas are important to the economy, and a Hunt Energy Hall display listed two “Great Energy Questions:” “What’s the best energy mix for Texas?” and “Can conservation make a difference?”   The importance of conserving energy seems like a no-brainer when one considers evidence  of greenhouse gas-caused climate change, but this is Texas, and producing and selling petroleum is how many local people, including the Hunt family, make their fortunes.   Fracking for oil and gas dominated the Hunt exhibit space, reflecting fossil fuels’ importance in today’s economy.

Ignoring, discounting or rejecting the science of human-caused global warming  explains much of civilization’s failure to deal with it. I wish every big city had a Perot science museum, even if getting the money to build it requires deference to fossil fuel producers who are powering climate change.

Image by Kuebi = Armin Kübelbeck (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.


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