(I didn’t get this piece done in time to contribute to This is What a Scientist Looks Like, but I’ll run it here anyway. Go check the site out if you don’t know about it already—it is truly a great site for combating stereotypes!)
Being a Love Letter to Science
It’s 3:30 AM when I began to write these words; isn’t that the appropriate time to compose a love letter? Being fully honest, I’d have to admit it isn’t exactly my devotion to science that keept me awake this morning, though I suppose I could twist it around that way. After all, if I had chosen a different path in life, I might yet be employed and at peace instead of awake, worrying about the future. However, it’s not science’s fault, so it’s not important to keep talking about it.
Any love letter has to balance between Byronic and ridiculous (which I guess Byron himself understood). Emotions can seem pretty silly when set out in writing, and the more earnest those feelings are, the more absurd they appear. Love of science isn’t quite the same as love of a person, though, so being clinical is acceptable in a way that it wouldn’t be if I were writing to a human being.
I love science as intensely as anyone can love an intellectual pursuit. I started graduate school immediately after college, and found myself intensely unhappy with my choice, so I quit. I went to work for a while as a computer sysadmin, running the technical side of a nonprofit agency, but I found that I spent a lot of my spare time still thinking and talking about science. So, I decided to go back and finish my PhD, and I’ve been busy with science ever since. I’ve been a full-time student, full-time researcher, full-time teacher, and now full-time writer (though alas I’m not paid anywhere close to full-time, but that’s a different problem). Measuring my undergraduate, graduate, and professional life in years, I’ve been at this for over 17 years, longer than many marriages, and nearly long enough for my scientific life to attain adulthood status (in the United States at least). At this rate, who knows what I’ll do next, but to paraphrase Willie Nelson, “I’d have to be crazy to stop all my science”.
Now, inspired by the name of this project, here’s a bit of musical whiplash: from their album Dear Science, here’s TV on the Radio: