In today’s world, we sit on top of the shoulders of all who preceded us. Without Dr. Pasteur, our children would suffer far more food-borne disease, as well as fear that the bite of a dog would be a fatal event. Without Dr. Koch, diphtheria would kill many of our youngest children. Without Drs. Salk and Sabin, polio would wreak devastation as it did in our Grandmother’s time. Well, you get the idea: we are not the creators of the modern world, simply the fortunate beneficiaries of the truly inspired genius of those who lived before us.
I was reminded of this fact on my recent vacation to Portugal. My wife and I were fortunate to go to Lisbon for some sightseeing. On our first day, as we were touring the port at Belem from which the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their journeys into the unknown, our guide did an “Oh by the way, there is the …” while we drove past something called the “Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.” The Centre for the Unknown, how cool is that? Wouldn’t you love to work there? They don’t sell anything, make anything, or have any of the constraints the rest of the world works under. They go to work everyday to discover the unknown, They go to work to break new boundaries and unlock new secret findings in the fields of neuroscience and oncology. I was immediately taken by the idea.
Knowing that these and other bright, young, energetic minds are hard at work in the neurosciences and cancer research reminded me to have hope that some of our children’s great plagues, such as cancer and autism, may soon be unraveled. I truly hope that in 20 years, some of these obscure scientists’ names will become known by everyone for their great contributions to humankind. We are constantly reminded in our media about destructive, evil forces all over the world. It was great to encounter on my vacation what I consider to be true goodness in a place called the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown!