Today is the National Day of Reason in the US. Started ten years ago, this day represents a push back against the National Day of Prayer. The separation of church and state was an important part of our country's founding. People are free to assemble and practice whatever religious beliefs they hold, and I would never want that freedom to disappear. There are many people, however, who think it unconstitutional to use taxpayer money to fund a day of prayer. As one of those people, I wish to add my voice to those who value reason and view it as a human being's greatest virtue.
To celebrate reason today, I will introduce my students to the beauty of Fourier analysis. That we can untangle the complexity of bizarre wave patterns is something that always puts a chill on my spine. Doing science well means setting aside a fear of being ignorant, asking questions, investigating the natural world, and then letting data and evidence take you to conclusions that may or may not make you happy. Your opinion of the conclusions reached by good science has no effect on those conclusions. Fourier's work survives nearly 183 years after he died because of the reason and brilliance he put into it. If you ever do any type of signal processing, be sure to thank Joseph Fourier!
If you are interested in reading more about the National Day of Reason, click here.