Muhammad Hamza Waseem
The Lahore Science Mela is the first of its kind fair in Pakistan where the prevailing gap between culture and science will be bridged. Hearing the word ‘culture’ takes one to the narrow streets of androon shehr (walled city), the tantalizing cuisine of food streets and the historical places, like the Shahi Qila, the Shalamar Gardens, Chauburji that have stood the test of time. The modern world encapsulates all this in one word i.e. Lahore, the cultural heart of Pakistan that will host the grand celebration of science.
Rarely, if ever, does it happen in Pakistan when scientists, engineers, doctors, artists etc. gather to engage with and kindle the souls of public with the torch that drives their careers and causes sparkle in their eyes. The science fair will be open to everyone and will bring home the fact that the joy of science, of comprehending what surrounds us, can be shared by all. Indeed, the laws that make the heavens go round stand above race, colour, caste, creed or religion and reveal themselves to those who wonder.
What better occasion can there be to share the charisma of science with everyone than a mela? Melas (festivals) have a rich tradition in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab and symbolize good entertainment for the whole family and build a strong sense of community. The mela at hand will be an opportunity to engage citizens, of all ages and all backgrounds, through events that celebrate science, engineering, medicine, technology and innovation.
Housed at the occasion will be stalls and exhibitions, depicting science and culture, expressing the organic connection between the two realms often considered aloof from each other. Although various technologies are crafted as a result of arduous work of scientists, it is an artist that teaches man the ethics of using technology. Hence, it is imperative that we bring together the two aspects of life.
Giving you a glimpse of the science fair, the attendees will get to witness the glow of lasers accompanied by the brilliance of crystals. Other materials, lesser attractive yet utilitarian cousins of crystals, will be no lesser a cause of wonder and enchantment. Where understanding of the intricate yet beautifully orchestrated human physiology will be imparted to everyone by the medical practitioners, there chemistry will be the apple of everyone’s eye through its fizzy reactions, bubbling and miniature blasts.
Sports lovers will get to see the mechanics underlying their games and comprehend the adrenaline rush that runs in them while they play. Theoretical physics will invite all to ponder over its grand theories to understand the microcosmos and the macrocosmos. The stargazers will get a bit of their curiosity quenched through live astronomical observations via professional apparatus. Models of satellites and space observation instruments will be reminiscent of the ‘giant leap for mankind.’ Automobile and robotics enthusiasts will also get something to be excited about. Stalls of computer and IT will be placed in neighbourhood of those of animal and plant science, reminding everyone to exercise a balance between the use of the two.
Homemakers, chefs and everybody else as well will be delighted by stalls of kitchen science. Not only the science museums will be invited to present, but also the museums of botany and zoology will be asked to grace the occasion. Adding to the air of wonder and excitement will be the soothing air of aquariums. Gems and minerals will boast of the variety available among them whereas petroleum industry will speak of the long journey mineral oil has to traverse before getting ready for daily use. Stalls of palaeontology and fossils will make everyone realize that they are, in essence, a part of the past.
In short, the Lahore Science Mela will dispel the notion that science is only meant for the privileged elite. By making the mela open to all, we will demonstrate that science accepts all with open arms and an open heart. A young girl with little means and illiterate parents has just as much to offer, and just as much to gain, as an affluent businessman with deep pockets. We hope that the Lahore Science Mela will celebrate science as a grand equalizer, and as a means that leads to both intellectual and social sustainability, and economic well-being.