9 thoughts on “You Know You Are A Scientist When…

  1. This could have been written by me! It really made me smile, glad to know there are other deep thinkers out there. Proud to be a geek!

  2. About 15 years ago, as a physics PhD student i took part in a conference in San Sebastian, a Spanish city at a particularly scenic bay with a great beach . One night, I had a nice walk at this beach with a colleague and both our girlfriends. The sky was clear with a beautiful moon and the waves were rolling at the beach. While the (non-physicist) women were talking about the beauty of the moment, the sight of waves and moon made me start a conversation about how exactly the tides would slow down motion in the moon-earth system.

  3. I am not a scientist, but I think I might have missed my calling. I have done the same thing with my zipper pull except that I have stopped and tried to recreate the sound to see how much of it was probability based and if the noise operated like harmonics on a guitar and only worked under specific conditions.

  4. I liked your anecdotes; it’s always fun to hear about moments like this. While I agree generally with what I think you’re trying to get at, ie scientific understanding enhancing quaint experiences, I’m not sure I’d agree with your language relating to “me/us” (and by inference “not them”).

    Part of me thinks that it’s not just “scientists” who make these kinds of observations. I suspect everyone at one point or another has stared at the bubbles in their drink and wondered about them, going beyond “that’s pretty”. Of course, most people don’t think about “nucleation” per se, but that’s just a word, isn’t it?

    I’m not sure “geekiness” is connected specifically to the act of wondering, but rather to knowing more technical details about how something works.

    But yes, I also get moments eg hen snowboarding: I don’t just think “this piste is fun”, but also “by lowering my centre of gravity, I will go faster; if I try to streamline my body, I will decrease the effect of the air resistance”.

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your comment.

      OK, I will go through my opinions on your thoughts logically…

      Although not something I was specifically thinking of at the time of writing, I don’t specify what a scientist is: I mention that you need to be geeky to be what I refer to as a ‘scientist’ in this post, but just because you are a geek doesn’t mean you are a scientist who undertakes scientific research in a professional capacity. Now we have plenty of citizen scientists – do we class these people as scientists? I think we can, at least for my meaning in this post, because they have enough of an interest in the world and ‘science’ to want to become a citizen scientist. So, I see much less of a ‘them and us’ scenario. Anyway, I think that what we can learn from this post (as I mention at the end) is what makes a ;’scientist’ tick, so that we can try and blur the lines between ‘scientist’ and ‘non-scientist’ even more with better communication.

      So, ‘nucleation’. It is just a word, but the process it refers to is not. My point here is that, although many people think ‘wow that’s interesting, I wonder how that happens’ about loads of things in life, there are others who take this wonder a step further, and like to apply their logical and analytical skills and whatever background knowledge they possess to the question. And that is the difference I was highlighting in this post. That does not mean that anyone who doesn’t think that way is less ‘good’ or or whatever, but it is something to geekily celebrate when you do, and something we can pick up on and harness when we communicate science – i.e. think of all the cool things that just happen every day and how we can use even a tiny bit of scientific knowledge to understand them! As I mention, I don’t have all the answers to these little wonders, but I like the idea that somewhere, somebody does actually know this and that’s kind of cool.

      The word ‘geek’ has a lot of hype around it, but I just use it because it is a fun word that in my past has always meant uncool, but I actually think is something to celebrate. I don’t think you need more technical knowledge to be a ‘geek’, you just need to want to find out more about the questions you ask, and be the kind of person who wonders something and then goes out to find the answers, even if it’s just something silly.

      For instance, I don’t think you have to know about gravity of physics when snowboarding to be a ‘geek’. You just need to notice that if you crouch then you go faster, and then maybe try things out like when you turn a corner do you need to crouch or stand – do your own little experiments however crude.

      Sorry for the long reply, but I thought your thoughts were really interesting, and believe they deserved a proper answer!

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