The Scientist

So I announced my scientist-ness in my profile to the right. Why did I do that?

It’s the tribe I belong to, the people I feel kinship with across the world, the badge I’m proud to wear, it’s the single word that says the most about me.

I’m told my first words were “oooo…look!”, this to my mind is the first half of the mindset of a scientist. Mark Carwardine has just illustrated this nicely on the rather wonderful TV programme “Last Chance to See“, they’re on Madagascar. He’s wandering around crying out “oooo….look”, pointing things out to Stephen Fry: a leaf-tailed gecko, a pygmy chameleon, sifaka… Okay, so he is varying his vocabulary a bit, but that’s the gist.

“Why?” is the other half of the mindset. In the case of Madagascar, it’s that way (rich in unique wildlife) because it split from the rest of Africa long ago. And in the glorious recursive way of it all those few words “…it split from the rest of Africa long ago” lead into another story of how the continents we stand on are gliding across the world (albeit very slowly).

To me it doesn’t really matter the type of scientist, it’s an artificial division. “oooo…look” and “why?” are the important things. Perhaps everyone thinks this way, but some of us have just had the fortune to get paid for it.


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    • AntibodyBoy on September 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Lovely way of putting it. Its a shame that the "ooh, look!" & "why?" are becoming increasingly met with a disparaging parental "yes, but whats the _economic value_ of looking?"

    • SomeBeans on September 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Hi AntibodyBoy – I was a lecturer until a few years ago and the thing that really depressed me was "Is it in the exam?"!

    • VP on September 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    How nice to find the undergardener's started blogging too :)

    Like you, I'm a scientist – having gone down the biology route – but was only lucky enough to be paid for it in short bursts.

    Therefore I'm now enjoying my (very) early retirement by saying 'oh look' and 'why' as often as possib;e :)

    • SomeBeans on September 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Hi VP! Well, it seemed like twitter was one vast blog pimping exercise – so I had to join in ;-)

    I wish I'd kept up biology – I did in a way, my last academic position was in biological physics.

    • VP on September 27, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Trouble is, there's just too many interesting things out there to keep up with aren't there? So we're forced to specialise :(

    • VP on September 28, 2009 at 10:14 am

    PS I do find it quite ironic that a lot of Twitter messages are basically saying – I can't tell you everything in 140 characters, go and look here instead!

    So far I've avoided going there – I might disappear into the ether entirely if I did. I spend too long in here already ;)

    Good to see you in here instead and writing interesting stuff.

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