Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cycling for science

When I was a child, I didn't have many friends. During recess, I would find a quiet spot in the schoolyard and sit and stare off into space, usually towards the foothills of the Laurentians, sprawled out beyond the opposite bank of the river. The mountains seemed to beckon.

To avoid the din and bustle of the city, and because they didn't have much money, my parents bought an old house in the country. I've watched as the city has moved out to greet our creaky wooden home; as industrial buildings have slowly cluttered the view just near our home, over the valley towards the city skyline. As sub-urban sub-divisions have covered and filled in beautiful ravines and waterfalls. It's not just around my parents' home that I notice these changes. Going hiking in Gaspe for a wild escape, the trail suddenly ended and I was greeted by monstrous towers carrying overhead powerlines. Going cycling in the countryside I see what was once a serene and wild escarpment scarred by a new quarry.

The world is growing smaller by the minute. As a remote-sensing specialist, I am more accutely aware of this than anyone. There are thousands of satellites up there, watching our world every second, sending down terrabytes of information about the land surface and the atmospheric state, mapping the globe a hundred times a day.

Before my family moved to Ottawa, we lived in a tiny seaside town in Quebec. Even at the age of three I was awed by the majesty and mystery of the ocean. If I could, I would build a spaceship, to keep that sense of mystery and sail into it, like the explorers of old. But I can't, so I'll do the next best thing. Before the world becomes too small, while there is still a hint of that old curiosity left, I'd like to take off on my bicycle and see strange lands and strange cultures. I realize that by doing so, I am only speeding the shrinkage, but it will happen apace, with or without my intervention.

I plan on leaving around March 26st. My goal for this trip is to raise awareness for my new venture, which I call the the Peteysoft Foundation, a non-profile research organization dedicated to free and independent inquiry into the pure sciences. My itenerary is as follows:
  • Ottawa to Halifax
  • Amsterdam to Istanbul
  • Istanbul to Seoul
You can sponsor me for one or more legs of the journey. But I hope to be completely self-sufficient by taking along this guitar:

which I will play in public venues.