Remembering John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy remains a shining knight of American political history. He was the youngest person to ascend to the presidency and the youngest president to die in office. He and his wife Jacqueline were icons of style, presiding over a glittering era that became known as Camelot. Read More →

Clean Energy Action Plan for U.S.


The global clean energy marketplace is expanding rapidly, but the competitive position of American industry is at risk because of increased competition abroad and uncertain policies at home, according to a report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Read More →

Adultlescence: A New Phase of Life

Adultlescence is a relatively new word. To some, it is defined as a period of life in which many young people seem stuck. Rather than behaving like proper grown-ups, getting jobs, and having children, these “adultlescents” have moved back in with their parents, are still addicted to video games, and show few or no signs of taking up the responsibilities of home and career.

Others, however, are looking at adultlescence in a slightly different light. Adultlescence, under this viewpoint, is not some sort of social malaise or disorder, but rather a new phase of human development, brought about by an uncertain economy and/or the reality of drastic increases in human life expectancy over the past hundred years or so.

The latter view of adultlescence gains some credence when compared to other phases of human development. Childhood as we think of it, for example, did not exist prior to the 18th century. At that earlier point in human history, children were seen not as children but as “little adults.” The clothes they wore were simply smaller versions of adult clothing, the toy industry did not exist, and most children were expected to pitch in and begin working to support the family as soon as they were able. They were not to be coddled or indulged. Today, however, there are child labor laws, and the idea of a child being required to do backbreaking labor in a field all day in the hot sun is practically unthinkable. This implies that there is no “proper” age for any particular stage of development and that it is, rather, a construct based on the values and beliefs of any given time and society.

Looking at emerging adultlescence as a function of humanity’s increased lifespan also benefits from examination of past trends. For example, as late as the early 20th century, average life expectancy from birth was as low as 31 years of age. The present average life expectancy is currently more than double that. Granted, a large portion of the increase can be attributed to the reduction in infant mortality brought about by modern medical advances. However, people are not only living longer, but more people are living longer. Many people are also working much longer. This leads to increased competition for jobs and resources, as well as a perception that working life may be much longer for young people now than it was for their parents or grandparents. Since adulthood ends later than it used to, it naturally follows that it can now begin later, too.

This ties directly into the economic perspective on adultlescence. Few children would relish the thought of living beneath their parents’ roof indefinitely.  Returning to the nest, so to speak, is as likely to be a result of economic pressure as desire. This would suggest there is a case to be made for adultlescence as a malaise of society—if it can be seen as a malaise at all—rather than as a malaise of a generation.

Whatever the underlying forces behind its creation, adultlescence is growing as a sociological term and as a phase of human development in its own right. Whether or not it grows out of it and into something different, or simply passes away entirely is something only time will tell.

Why STEM Should Be Focus at G8

I believe the U.S. needs to focus more on STEM in our educational system at all levels. If we’re ever going to solve our most pressing societal problems, we will need qualified scientists to accomplish the task while at the same time, ensuring that our species survives through new technologies and advancements both on Earth and beyond. This release issued below by the National Science Academies is calling for a focus on Read More →

Where Are The Darkest Skies in the World?

Have you ever wondered where the best place in the world is to see the night sky? The International Dark Sky Association has the answer for you. They have designated five places in the world as gold tier international dark sky parks.

In order to qualify for this award, the land must be publically owned, open to the public at least part of the night and meet strict rules in the surrounding area to protect the quality of the night sky from light pollution. While many have tried for this honor, only five in the world have achieved this level of success.

The largest gold tier International Dark Sky Park in the United States is Big Bend National Park in west Texas with 803,000 acres. The park has also been declared as having the darkest skies in the lower 48 states, due to strict light ordinances in the few neighboring communities. Big Bend National Park was not a Dark Sky Park until February, 2012.

Other gold tier dark sky parks in the United States include Cherry Springs in Pennsylvania, Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico, and National Bridges Natural Monument in Utah. Each of these parks has an active program to help families enjoy the night sky. The only international gold tier dark sky park is Galloway Forest Park located in Scotland.

Now you know where to go for unparalleled star gazing goodness.

Happy universe hunting!

Image Credit: David Hardy