Remarks by Jonathan Fanton at the Launch of Science Chicago
September 16, 2008 | Speech

Thank you, Mayor Daley.

With outstanding leadership from David Mosena and the Museum of Science and Industry, and the collaboration of more than 140 of Chicago’s institutions, the world’s largest science celebration begins today.

In tribute to the dedication and hard work of many people who have brought us to this launch, it is appropriate that this event is running on people power. A first for me.

MacArthur is proud to be a sponsor of Science Chicago. It could not have happened without the Mayor’s determination that Chicago will continue to lead in groundbreaking research, innovative technology, and medical advances; his passion for education; and his support for bold and imaginative programs.

Almost three years ago, he launched Science in the City, mobilizing Chicago’s schools and universities; businesses; and civic, cultural, and community organizations to place science firmly at the center of public attention. Science in the City helped pave the way for Science Chicago, and we are honored to collaborate with the program.

We are also fortunate to have the active partnership of Maggie Daley as a member of our Board of Advisors. Her inspirational leadership of After School Matters, especially its dynamic science37 program, brings the excitement of science to all Chicago’s children, expanding their horizons and opportunities.

We are privileged to live in a city that is one of the world’s great centers of scientific endeavor and technological progress. Scientists in Chicago discovered the Top Quark, executed the first controlled nuclear reaction, created carbon-14 dating, and developed the first effective treatment for malaria. We reversed the flow of a river, pioneered the architecture that created modern cities, and built the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. And that’s just a sample.

Our businesses too have led and encouraged innovation: the assembly-line was invented here. The first commercially-built artificial kidney, car radios, and the cellular phone are among our accomplishments.

Science Chicago is reshaping this remarkable legacy for a new generation. This year, Science Chicago will educate, inspire, and change lives, reaching out to four million people – 700,000 of them children and teenagers – with thousands of inter-related activities and events. Almost all of them are free of charge. The range is breathtaking: Science Saturdays, One Book One Chicago, Labfest, and activities covering everything from particle physics to wetland conservation, robotic surgery to the history of DNA.

Science Chicago will encourage a new generation of scientists – young people who will rise to the challenge and enjoyment of studying the natural world. Their talent, curiosity, ambition and accomplishment are key to keeping Chicago at the forefront of new knowledge and practical invention, in a global economy.

But all of us, not only young people, will benefit from Science Chicago. Science and technology are essential to our everyday lives and central to the most pressing and controversial issues of our day – climate change, the search for new modes of energy, genetic modification and stem-cell research, to name a few.

Because science is so important, we all need to understand how it works, and what we must do to unleash and nurture its potential. We need to be informed and equipped to join conversations about the important practical and ethical issues it raises. Engaging with science is part of being a citizen of this century.

And it is now my pleasure to introduce the Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for Science Chicago and one of America’s leading advocates for science and education, Dr. Walter Massey.

He is a distinguished physicist, former director of the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Provost of the University of California system, Vice President for Research at the University of Chicago, President of Morehouse College, and trustee of the MacArthur Foundation. Dr. Massey embodies the power of research and learning to transform individuals and societies, and we are fortunate to have a scientist of his stature at the forefront of this initiative.

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