Science Deniers Run Nobel Astronomer Out Of Backward Town
But she finds inspiration on the shoulders of giants
Nobel Prize-winning astronomer Hailey O’Sentrick has a car trunk full of star maps, moon rocks, and a hand-cranked model of the Solar System. Unfortunately, that car is headed straight out of the sleepy farm town she used to call home, where residents have rejected her scientific achievements and perhaps even science itself.
“It’s amazing that in the 21st century, there are still people who will throw you out for saying that the Earth is round and is not the center of the Universe,” O’Sentrick said in a recently released statement. “But believe it or not, they do still exist, right here in my home town.”
Her troubles began while she was giving a lecture about how the planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun. “I was just starting the good part,” she explained, “how the other planets appear to reverse direction in the Earth’s sky, but really we’re all just traveling around the same Sun at different speeds, when I was silenced by personnel who demanded that I pack up my things and vacate the premises.”
O’Sentrick reluctantly took her planetary props and drove away from the coffee shop that had just banned her from delivering her Nobel Prize-worthy lectures to the other patrons as they sipped their drinks, chatted, and swiped on their mobile devices. But she did not give up. She drove to the playground where she used to play as a little girl, and she set up her things to try again.
“Science education is vital for our young people, especially in this age of misinformation,” she said. “I was determined to give back to my community.” O’Sentrick began to lecture on planetary mechanics and heliocentrism while sitting in swings, sliding down slides, and climbing on bars, but children avoided her, and parents demanded that she leave the premises. “The ignorance here is unbelievable,” she observed. “These poor kids. I don’t know how I made it through.”
To her ever-growing astonishment, the Nobel laureate had no better luck at public facilities such as hospitals, power plants, and even local libraries. “These places literally run on science,” she said with exasperation, “and libraries are centers of knowledge and enlightenment. They are all public places, which belong to all of us, including me. We pay for them with our tax dollars, and I have a right to be there. I will be calling my lawyer!”
At her wits’ end, O’Sentrick finally thought of the ultimate public space: the roads. Driving away from the library, she had to wait patiently for a funeral procession, take a detour around a parade, and make a U-turn at a political protest. Finally she arrived at an appealing spot, where she parked her car across both lanes and began lecturing in front of it.
“Even the police threw me out!” O’Sentrick reported grimly. “The anti-science agenda in this town goes all the way to the top. Everyone makes way for a cute parade, a pack of marathon runners, or a street fair, but breathe a word about the Earth’s eccentricity, and you’re finished! I don’t want to say there’s a conspiracy, but we have a systemic denial of science woven deeply into the fabric of this community.”
O’Sentrick thought of giving up. “My hero Albert Einstein always said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results,” she said. “So I’m done with this town! I’m moving on to someplace where they’re not stuck in the Dark Ages.”
Then she consulted her other hero, Thomas Edison. “Edison said the surest way to succeed is to try just one more time, so he would agree: I’ll try this whole thing again, in one more town where they’re not stuck in the Dark Ages.”
With both of her heroes on board, Hailey O’Sentrick considers this a scientific consensus. The determination that made her a Nobel Prize-winning astronomer will surely lead her to success.
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