Have you ever had that moment where you just KNOW you are a scientist because of a particular type of thought or thought process?
For example: the other day I arrived at my local gym and as I was on my way downstairs to the changing rooms my bag’s metal ‘hangy-things’ that dangle off the zip came into fleeting contact with the metal bannister. The result was a highly musical tone (don’t ask me what note) that lingered for quite a while. I can’t be certain, but I am sure that any normal person would probably not have noticed this at all, but the first thing that went through my head after ‘That was a nice sound’ was ‘Hmm, and the precise density, shape, form and possibly rate and length of contact of the two metals were what defined that sound, and I wonder what all the other sounds are that could have been made with a slight change in material property of either of the two objects would have made’, before I stopped myself for being far too much of a geek when I should be going for a relaxing steam and swim and thinking of something vaguely normal.
This is not a lone occurrence either. This happens to me at least once a day, over such things as how bubbles nucleate on the raised letters/shapes at the bottom of pint glasses (one of the world’s most poignant questions), how our minds are drawn to specific cues in advertisements and so on. I find myself constantly trying to work out the world, but not out of some sort of need to have an answer to everything and more out of an innate curiosity and willingness to always learn more through logic and problem solving. I love to wonder about things, whether my analyses are correct or not does not mean that much to me – although if I see flaws or gaps in my mental reasoning I make a note to find out more about this at some later date in my life. I love being able to work my way up from my basic understandings of chemistry and physics to understand the real world, and this is exactly what always makes me the most excited about science: how the smallest thing can provide answers to some of the biggest questions.
Take physics for example, and how many scientists across the globe get so excited about a tiny quark or boson and this helps contribute to answering questions that concern the WHOLE UNIVERSE! On a smaller scale, geology. I loved the day when I was in class and we were discussing igneous petrogenesis and how the discovery of a tiny rare earth element in the tiniest of quantities inside a mineral could point to the fact that this rock was formed from eruptions at a volcanic arc in the middle of the ocean – because that tiny element is soluble in water!! A simple enough concept, but it was not that makes me love science – it’s the fact that something so small can tell you about something so large, plate tectonics in this case.
Have you ever had the same feeling of ‘wow I’m a geek!’? If so, let me know by tweeting me or mentioning in the comments. If anyone has then I am sure it will make for an interesting blog post, and also hopefully help us see what makes us tick as scientists, and maybe, just maybe we can use this to see what might make others tick when it comes to science too.