Many of us are inspired by the biggest names in the history of exploration. Magellan. Shackleton. Hillary. Armstrong. We are amazed by their exploits and marvel at their accomplishments.
And we ask ourselves, “Could I do that?”
Exploration has been described roughly as “going somewhere no one has been before–usually at significant risk–for the purpose of scientific discovery”. There are several elements of that definition that scare off most of us, whether it is the part about going somewhere new or taking risks or conducting science. Therefore, we tend to leave exploration to the “professionals”, such as the members of the prestigious Explorers Club.
However, the world might be such a better place (and the future of humanity such a rosier vision) if more of us ventured out to explore the universe around us.
Someone once said that the difference between science and exploration is that “science seeks answers; exploration seeks questions”. Since curiosity is at the core of exploration and human beings are naturally curious creatures, it stands to reason that each and every one of us has an Inner Explorer. We just have to connect with ourselves.
Fortunately, there are a growing number of opportunities for “citizen explorers” to join or support expeditions … or even conduct their own exploration efforts.
The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science recently launched a new Exploration Science program. Although it aims to teach scientists many of the skills they will need to conduct their own expeditions, it also provides opportunities for “citizen scientists” to get involved with exploration projects.
The team that brought us inexpensive DIY underwater robots is developing an online platform to foster a global community of “citizen explorers”. Through OpenExplorer, anyone can “explore their backyard” and share their findings with the rest of us.
With opportunities like these becoming increasingly available, we hope that many more people around the world will find their Inner Explorer.