Over many centuries, people of vision and events of importance have reframed and refocused our image of our relationship with our world. We have selected some that are instantly recognizable. Others may surprise. These Vision Changers resonate the unique perspectives of The Roberta Bondar Foundation.
You will find the aha! moments in the sciences and arts. You’ll meet the shakers and movers, known and less known, the large and small moments of how we learn about our world and our world’s world.
We share these short views into some of what has made us what we are. May they inspire you to see new points-of-view. Perhaps they will be springboards into a new or related interest in the science we are and the art that we live.
Natural world themes are many. Our knowledge of Nature was once restricted to what our eyes could see and our ears could hear. Today, we have tools to extend our knowledge of natural phenomena invented over centuries by people who wanted to know more, to see and hear what we cannot naturally see and hear.
For us, Nature certainly encompasses Biology — the sciences of Botany and Zoology. We include some of the pioneers and advancers of these sciences as well as some of the tools they developed and refined to help us understand natural phenomena better.
Some of the general Earth Sciences in this section once wore general labels such as ”geology” and ”weather”. Another oldie – ”Natural History” – was the catchall home of observations in astronomy, celestial mechanics, tides, speculations and various “proofs” of the possible shape of Earth.
Often discovery is accidental. Yet discoveries are also made when a purposeful search for something new is initiated. A discovery is an exciting find, especially if the discoverer actually recognizes that something new has been found. You’d think a discoverer would know wouldn’t you? But even Columbus couldn’t grasp he’d stumbled upon a sizeable continent in between Spain and the back door to Asia.
If you were someone who had discovered something new, chances are you would take the logical next step – its exploration. The exploratory step offers up its own bonuses and hazards, enlightenment or blind alleys. An explorer knows about the discovery and wants to pursue it further and find out more.
Sometimes the discoverer and explorer are the same person or organization. Sometimes centuries pass between a discovery and its exploration. Read on!
Humankind took a long time to learn about our planet’s varied life forms – its biodiversity. And we haven’t even discovered it all! The sad part about this is that a mind-boggling number of life forms are already extinct and sometimes our own activities have brought this about. Fortunately, we are learning how best to conserve the biodiverse life that remains on our planet. This requires cooperation within countries and between them.
Some of our best work as a species appears in regional, national, and international initiatives such as National Parks, wildlife refuges and sanctuaries, international organizations to protect avian flyways, access to freshwater, and better stewardship of our natural resources. Good thing, too, since changing climates and human expansion have thrown us into a race against time to identify and learn from the many lifeforms that may well become extinct before we know of their existence.
We don’t always need eyesight to have vision. The vision that intrigues us is the ability to visualize future use, future impact of an idea or discovery. The ability to visualize requires insight into how that vision makes a difference, how it is a game changer, how it improves life for all.
We admire the work of botanical illustrators, landscape and nature photographers. Many of their images provide our only visual records of extinct life forms, geophysical phenomena, and radically changed landforms and shorelines.
Satellites, probes, and Earth Science projects from NASA and ESA projects give us insight into Earth’s intricate patterns of weather, oceans, and atmosphere. Their remote sensing technologies convert data outside our limited ranges into representations we can see and hear.
Throughout the ages, special individuals and groups have shared their knowledge and endowed libraries and museums with vast and amazing collections. Additionally, we are indebted to the men and women who have developed ways of classifying knowledge and provided guidelines for us to access it.