Candles in the Dark

in #science6 years ago

Adding to the chain

After reading this post by @infovore, then the post by @stellabelle here relaying some thoughts on writing motivations, including;

I write to hopefully help people who are suffering, to give them a little spark, a feeling of hope
~ @stellabelle

I felt inspired to examine what i might be able to contribute in this area. With that in mind I am going to write a short series of posts, hopefully sharing with you all, some of my 'candles in the dark'. By that i mean people, or books or just 'things' that have helped me through some dark times in my life and given me that spark of hope. With one additional criteria; That they are at least somewhat accessible to 'You', should you want to seek them out.

So - Post One!

Cara Santa Maria

source, Photographer: Bob Nybe

Cara Santa Maria is a Science Communicator, journalist, host and presenter (TV and online), Podcaster, and i'm sure more. Originally from Texas.

Like most (if not all) of the people I will cover in this series. I've never met Cara Santa Maria. However, I first came across her work with the Huffington Post in a science communication series called 'Talk Nerdy To Me'.

I enjoyed the few videos that i saw and the accompanying blogs and would generally click on the posts as i saw them - These didn't change my life (except perhaps for when she went after the brontosaurus ...feels bad man) but the content was still fascinating.

Some time later I saw her name pop-up on a podcast so i checked it out
(Only slightly hoping to hear that there was a mistake and brontosaurus was legit again)
It seemed like this kind of format suited her much better and indeed there was talk of starting her own podcast: Talk Nerdy - With Cara Santa Maria which happened not long after.

Talk Nerdy

This was really the catalyst for why Cara Santa Maria is one of my 'Candles in the dark'. Firstly her love of Science and understanding the world and indeed universe around her is infectious. Like other great science communicators (Sagan, Feynman, Tyson, Cox) not only is she curious, but she wants to share that curiousity and the results with others. Importantly for me at many times, is how she spoke about Mental health, depression, therapy and other topics usually so carefully navigated or outright ignored in such a straight-forward manner. She was not afraid to admit her own struggles with depression, bad reactions to medications, on-going treatment/therapy.
It's hard to explain, but the way that she owned such a thing, but wasn't allowing it to define her. It made me feel far less ashamed of my own depression, and even moreso to try to follow her example. Aknowledging the issue, dealing with it as best you can, and figuring out how to make your way through the hurdles to still achieve what you want in life. Looking back, I can't help but laugh at how "Sneaky" i find that now. Using your fancy science to open up my mind to new ways of thinking about things, then slipping in a positive influence about managing mental health when i wasn't looking.

I've learned a lot from Cara Santa Maria, and not all of it about science, and for that I only have gratitude. So if you regularly listen to podcasts, or even if you've never tried it. I would strongly recommend giving this one a chance.
A couple of recent favourite episodes are:
Episode 105 and 107 with Neil Shubin paleontologist, geneticist, anatomist, and popular science author (Your Inner Fish, The Universe Within). They discuss Tiktaalik's place in our evolutionary past and also episode 100 Which is more AMA style with just Cara.

Cara Green

I would love to hear from others in the community, who do you look-up to? Who are your beacons that give you hope, comfort or insight/knowledge? Who are your Candles in the Dark?

PS I'm not really sure where to put this, so i'm just going to tag it #science and #writing but let me know if you don't think it fits, or would be better somewhere else.


I grew up on the Canadian prairies, in the exact middle of nowhere. My parents were pretty hardcore in the religion department and raised my six siblings and I with old testament violence, which they chose to believe was "good." The other people all around me were small-minded, to put it lightly. Nobody aspired to anything more that drinking on the weekend, getting laid, and driving a shiny pickup truck... it was my perfect definition of hell.

I go into a lot more depth in an earlier post of mine but my candles in the dark were all on television and in books. I read the entire original Hardy Boys series while in elementary school and loved watching Star Trek, The Next Generation. Such were my windows to a larger wold beyond my little redneck fishbowl. The internet came along and helped a lot too but the biggest influence came in the form of Tony Robbins' Personal Power 30-day cassette program. My dad had purchased the set because of an inspiring late-night infomercial but only ever listened to the first tape. He put them, down in the basement to collect dust for a decade before I finally stumbled on them as a twelve year old boy. It sparked a fire and set me down the path of self determination and entrepreneurship. I rejected all the psychological barriers set up by my authority figures and committed myself to perpetual growth and excellence. Christians talk about being born again and I suppose that program was the closest thing to a baptism I'll ever experience.

I'm from a small town in rural Australia, so i think i can relate to the fishbowl analogy. I just read your earlier post that you linked. Being distracted by, and thinking about things outside my control, and neglecting personal matters was my go to move for years. Thanks so much for sharing, I missed it when it was first posted as I've not been on steemit for long.

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