Friday, December 05, 2008


Every now and then, when I despair of finding anything worth reading on the Internet, I come across something like this little gem from Nature Network blogger extraordinaire Richard Grant. Now, he blogs eloquently and wittily on a consistent basis (in at least three places I'm aware of, and probably more besides), but sometimes he outdoes himself.

What grabs me most in his post is his description (in part) of what he likes about a career in science:

"I also love taking people and showing them something new: looking down the microscope and saying will you look at this!... and that enthusiasm for the natural world, that wonder at its beauty and coherence, is what has kept me a scientist."

Sentiments I can relate to, really, even though I spend precious little time these days doing science, and none whatsoever at the laboratory bench. Yes, you can do science in front of a computer, even if you're a biologist. Trust me on this. Even in front of a screen, I still get that "wow" moment from time to time, when something jumps out of the data and says "Hey! Here's something about the way life works that you didn't know before! In fact, here's something that nobody knew before!" Precious moments in between the routine, the reporting, the grant writing, the administration.

Earlier in his post, Richard also muses about why he got into the whole thing in the first place:

"Maybe it was because I couldn’t think of anything anything better to do?"

Which is, I think, meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek (difficult to believe where Dr. Grant is involved, I know). But I too have often thought that I became a "scientist" because (a) it seemed interesting, and (b) I couldnt' think of anything better to do, either. And yes, it's hauled me around a bit, in and out of industry and to and from humans and their diseases, and nearly-microscopic worms and the secrets of their nervous systems, among other things... but ultimately has gotten me where I am now, through a series of events that make up a story far too tedious to go into in detail (so that'll be next week's blog post, then).

As RPG considers the next phase of his illustrious (or should we say "interesting"?) career, his post makes me think of my own - through this and that, I actually feel as though I've "arrived" somewhere... namely right here, in my current position. That's not to imply that there aren't other places to go. But after this many years, my career seems to be well in order, which is not something I would have said at any time in my life until just about now. Fortunately, Richard has unintentionally managed to remind me of this. So thanks, mate, and good luck with whatever's next.


rpg said...

My own label. Fantastic.

Nice post.

Ricardipus said...

Ta. I rather enjoyed yours too (obviously).

R2K said...

: )

The Wrath of Dawn said...


Not everyone gets to "arrive." I've only just started to feel that way myself, not so much in my "career" (such as that is) but in other ways.

Well done, R'pus.

Ricardipus said...

Ta, Dawn.

Since we're both arriving, I'll meet you there, ok?

rpg said...

Y'know, R'Pus, it's a damned shame this post was too late for OpenLab'08.

I can guarantee it is better than 90% of the entries we have.

Ricardipus said...

Ta, rpg. I'm a bit clueless about OpenLab - guess I'd better investigate.

Alethea said...

Coming in a bit late, as well, you can add my accolade to your pile. You've saved me a fair bit of composition, since I can relate to most everything you (both) wrote.

However - I did not become a scientist because I couldn't think of anything else to do. I can think of far too many other things to do.

But the pleasure and happiness of some few fleeting moments in there, they make it all worthwhile.

Off to do some biology on the computer ;-)

Ricardipus said...

"I can think of far too many other things to do."

That's a bit of a problem now, to be sure... although practically speaking I'm so risk-averse that I'd never make a serious change at this point. rpg's change of job and continent gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Sidebar: Blogger's word verification for this comment is "dignme", which is just too good to go un-noticed.

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Someone told me the other day, in all seriousness, that I am a godsend.

Clearly, the world is coming to an end.

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Perhaps they meant, "god's end." As in, even God would lose patience with me.

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Okay. Enough arriving already. Get back here.