A new year and some reflections…

Pålsjö skog

A small stream over Lower Jurassic sedimentary rocks in the lush forest outside my hometown.


I was born in the sixties. I guess I wasn’t much into science back then. At least I wasn’t aware I was. Life was more about learning new skills, playing and growing. There was one children’s program on TV and as I recall, it rarely featured cartoons. Instead it aired shadow- or puppet theatres, or grown-ups talking to puppets on strings. We had no computers or mobile phones. We had board games and cards. Playing on your own was something you did to pass time. Or you were just bored beyond belief.

Time could sometimes move very slowly when I was a kid. I can still remember the sounds and smells of my childhood home so vividly, probably because I sometimes was so bored that I couldn’t do anything but listen to the ticktock of my grandfather’s clock, while I was lying on the floor scrutinizing the pattern on the wallpaper or brading the fringe of the carpet. Time is relative.

We played a lot outside in the park or the nearby woods. My home town is built on an escarpment of Triassic–Jurassic boundary rocks. We scrambled the slopes of the escarpment, climbing on 200 million year old sandstones and shales, every day. We climbed trees and crawled through bushes, picking berries and nuts. We played veterinary hospital in the rose garden at the centre of the park, saving butterflies and beetles from drowning in the spring fountain. Science was everywhere in the subtlests of ways.

We watched re-runs of the lunar landing, and tv-shows like Star Trek, Space: 1999, Mission impossible, the Invisible man etc., shows where science was always present as part of the story. Maybe that is why I already in 4th grade had my mind set on becoming a doctor, a veterinarian, an astronomer, or a microbiologist. I never thought about becoming a geologist. Geology wasn’t anything we were taught at school. It wasn’t until I had to apply for university that I suddenly realised geology was a university subject. I remember reading the few lines that described it, thinking “that could be interesting”. It wasn’t my number one choice, but when I was accepted for the Geology program, I deleted all other options. I have never regretted that. I love geology! I love the way it encompasses so many aspects of our planet and the life on it. There is always something new to discover and something new to learn.

In this day and age when some of the world leaders turn their backs on science, knowledge and learning, it is particularly important for scientists around the world to continue their work. Science is everywhere, in the world around us and in the technology that we use. In the water that we drink, the medicines we use and in the food that we eat. Let us not ignore climate change or environmental issues. Let us be smarter than that.

Let us make 2018 a Happy New Science Year!