Ah the scientists. Bless their happy little hearts I always say.
Having known a few of them and dealt with them on occasion I have to admit, they are a breed apart. I would even go so far as to say, that when it comes to working for a living, you’d not meet a happier crew.
Unless they’ve been hijacked by fighting against or participating in nefarious global agendas of course. Then they are either villains or heroes but neither are very happy understandably of course.
The only other times I’ve known a scientist to be unhappy is when they’re dealing with funding issues, publish-or-die demands and/or insufferable colleagues/boss types.
They just live blissfully in their little worlds tinkering and figuring and measuring with a passion not many of us get to experience. They experiment to demonstrate a known truth or just maybe they’ll be the one to discover something new under the sun. This idea makes them happy and thus, they have, for the most part, without fail a remarkable sense of humour.
Ultimately though, their joie de vivre and enthusiasm is hard to comprehend by the rest of us. I always think that it is an amazing thing considering they know how and when and why the world will end. Without exception, every single one of them knows. Every. Single. One.
You wouldn’t think that would be an easy thing to live with, but they do. Happily.
They are specialists in eschatology of a sort.
The only problem is, they’re specialists in their specialities and that makes them very special.
The vulcanologists will explain about supervolcanoes. The astronomers— black holes and asteroids and magnetospheres; virologists—super flus and man-made viruses; climatologists—global warming and ice ages; geologists—methane releases; meteorologists—el Nino and gulf streams and changing weather patterns; oceanographers —sea temperatures and whales; entomologists—cricket genocide; anthropologists will explain… well… something like resurrecting the Spanish flu from old graveyards e.g. I don’t know exactly what, but they’ll be happy to tell you about how it is going to kill us all.
Scientists spend their lives looking for their “I knew it!” day as if it was tantamount to Alfred Nobel on the 26th of November 1895 time-travelling on a string theory blackhole folded universe thingie onto the stage to present them with a prize with his last dying breath.
Really. They believe this…. Well, Okay, maybe not. But they are convinced of themselves. Absolutely. They have the research to back it up. Absolutely. Peer-reviewed even.
And this is normally quite okay. We’ve gotten quite used to them doing their thing without too much bother. We fund them to keep them productive and out of harms way. And often just get them to prove things we already know—to humour them. They are “mostly” harmless.
They’re even helpful at times. Yes. Harmless happy helpful people but sometimes. Well… I’m sorry to say that sometimes, well… they are insane.
Utterly insane. Not just insane. But UTTERLY insane. (Not to be confused with UDDERLY insane which has something to do with mad cow disease and/or bovine emissions.)
And we of course, love them despite this. When you spend your life peering into microscopes, telescopes, test tubes and spreadsheets, it is a very special kind of insanity and we understand. We have adapted to accept that even the insane deserve some happiness in this life. (Only labelled conspiracy theorists don’t apparently. And truckers. And farmers. And unvaccinated people.)
Nevertheless, we love reading about how far penguins can project their poop under different circumstances in the arctic or that the friction coefficient of walking with a banana peel as a shoe is 6 times slippier than normal friction between a shoe and the floor or how some stickleback fish never get tapeworms or how Hawaii is moving closer to Alaska by 7.5 cm per year.
These are important things. Especially for shipping costs from Hawaii with the way things are going I’d say.
So yes, they’re very entertaining sometimes our scientists. But then something did indeed keep me up at night. Even insane, their happiness makes no sense whatsobloodyever. Who in their right or even wrong mind is happy about the end of the world? Obviously, they aren’t happy. They need help.
We all know by now (or have been schooled to know) that we can trust the science. It’s just the scientists… that may be a different matter altogether.
Well… although we’ve all made allowances for their “eccentricities” shall we say, should we be so quick to hand over responsibility for the end of the world to them all? I mean, it’s a rather momentous occasion after all. It’s not like the end of the world happens every day. In all eternity.
Yes. This was bothering me. Because you see, we don’t know which ones have really lost the plot and think they’re going to save the world. As if they could. I mean, nobody really thinks to check on such things.
Well, I might be the only one.
Now long ago, and far away I started the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Misguided Scientists wherein I teach these particular scientists how to do needlepoint in order to bring them into some sort of half-normal state. So they could learn to socialize without too much of a ruckus and stop scaring everybody all the time.
I also taught nuclear physicists how to do macrame but that wasn’t as successful. They’re hopeless I’m afraid.
The trick to all of the work I had to do was understanding that simply by studying their research, their particular brand of madness could be traced through to childhood issues. And it was ALWAYS Freudian with these scientists. ALWAYS.
In any event, I’m afraid I’ll be having to resurrect the Institute and write to a few of these poor people to implore them to seek help before the world ends.
We will begin with the poor dear scientist who says spiders dream—a seemingly very sad case of latent neurosis all tied into the Oedipus complex and their work on the World Wide Web although I cannot say that for certain at this point.
I have found spider neurosis problems have become very common and are very very tricky to treat.
I’m thinking however this scientist is a very clever one who without probably realizing it is already half way to normal. This one has already honed in on Freud’s “dream analysis” theories just by torturing spiders. That was unconscious progress I’ll say!
I might write that one soon because this one has hope unlike some of them who will have to needlepoint the entire Bayeux Tapestry four times over by the looks of it. Particularly that one who is studying the concept of “white holes” over “black holes” which, instead of pulling in matter actually spits it out.
Well I don’t need to explain how, besides being politically incorrect, this work is obviously a desperate cry for mommy attention do I?
If you are aware of any scientist who may need to take up needlepoint please put it in the comment section below.
Also, here is your earworm*** for today:
Sylvia Shawcross lives in Quebec, Canada.
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