17 August, 2010

Hooked on Science

Via the magic of the intertoobz, I can simultaneously be up in the Olympic Mountains exploring excellent geology and pestering you lot.  Don't you feel fortunate? 

Now's a good time for us to discuss what got you hooked on science.  We all come to it from different directions.  For some, it was Star Trek, or a great science teacher, or an interesting childhood experience.  Some folks dropped in by way of their job, or a popular writer, or a nature show.  So I'm curious: what did it for you?  What was your gateway drug?  What got you interested, and what got you hooked?

I'll start, since I'm the one writing the damned post.  You'll probably laugh, but it was this: fantasy.  Pure fantasy.  Y'see, I got hooked on fantasy novels, and decided this was where I belonged as a writer, and after a bit realized I need to know a hell of a lot more about the real world in order to write about imaginary ones.  Oh, I'd had a mild interest and some respect for science ever since childhood, when I'd wanted to be an astronomer and sometimes a vet.  But I'd not have the passion I do now if I'd not started reading and writing fantasy. 

Once I got started (with, what else, cosmology), I couldn't stop.  The deeper I dug, the more fascinated I became.  Even stuff I'd despised, like biology, became intriguing.  The world suddenly ended up a lot more beautiful and a lot more interesting than it had been before.  I'm an addict now.  I couldn't give up science even with an excellent residential treatment program. 

So: Hi, my name is Dana, and I'm hooked on science.

Your turn, my darlings.  Have your say, whether you're a hardcore user or just dabble in it recreationally. 


RBH said...

I actually can't remember how I got hooked on science. I do know it was before I was in high school. One important event was discovering a clay bank in a gully that was rotten with fossils when I was 9 or 10 years old. Decades later I learned that they were Ordovician critters--brachiopods, cephalopods, crinoids, and corals.

An outstanding science teacher in the tiny high school I attended who taught physics, chemistry, and biology all by himself was highly influential in my actually going ahead to make a profession of science. Sadly, not long after I graduated he left teaching for a job in industry that paid enough to raise a family on.

Ron Schott said...

NOVA Season 8: "Anatomy of a Volcano" original airdate February 10, 1981

Lockwood said...

The theme for a wedge, July '09.

george.w said...

My dad, who was one of the country's pioneers of classroom media, got me hooked on science. He brought home broken machines for me to take apart: tape recorders, projectors, cameras, an early video recorder. He taught me to solder and work with wires. He bought me telescopes, microscopes (one of which I still use), magnifying glasses, dissecting kits, pocketknife, an Estwing rock hammer, and lots of books. He let me read anything in the house; I stumbled on "children's literature" because it was so contrived. He taught me to use photography as a scientific tool. He told me about history and fossils.

Unknown said...

Hm. Basically from the time I could read I devoured all books, and as a kid, they were mostly nonfiction--I would go find a random subject and read all about it. We were also on several book-club things and I had a lot of books that were full of information about how the world worked. I also got piles and piles of old National Geographics from a great uncle. I didn't so much read them as enjoy the awesome pictures, but the knowledge probably seeped in anyway. Nowadays I spend most of my time reading fiction, but a good chunk of it is speculative, and of course the Internet is also full of links to awesome new discoveries.

Probably my favorite science is astronomy; I don't know much of the crazy quantum details or the physics behind it all, but there's very little that's more astounding than photographs from space.

Suzanne said...

dissecting a frog in 8th grade general sciences class. i had no trouble but about half the class freaked out over the icky. i thought it was way cool.

i was lucky to have had a passionate about sciences science teacher (who was also a passionate anti-viet nam war protester who got arrested often at the naval weapons station outside of town).

i had always wanted to know the why's and how's of things. he opened the door to doing more than just reading about interesting things -- i could do interesting things.

DNorrisM said...

Mom yelled down to the basement:

"David, do you want to help me make this cake?"

"MOM! I'm experimenting with my chemistry set!"(I ran out of Strontium Nitrate on Day One)

"Well, cooking is also chemistry, so you can have your cake and eat it too."

That made sense, so we had a great time cooking.

Also thanks to my fathers and siblings.

Karen said...

Science in high school was traumatic. I skipped Biology, Chemistry was taught by the Teacher From Hell, and Physics was just confusing. (In college, I finally learned that tackling Physics without calculus is a recipe for disaster -- and I understood the Physics much better after I'd studied the math.) So I was a proto-engineer, and not a good candidate for science studies.

Then in college, to satisfy some-or-other requirement, I took an introductory geology class. It was amazing! Rocks, plain old rocks, tell stories about the history of the earth. They also tell stories about what can happen tomorrow, stories of earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis. I was fascinated.

I was also looking for a degree that would lead to a job, and everyone I knew was aghast that I might think of abandoning engineering for geology. So I became an engineer, worked in the field for 2 decades, and then hit a sort of dead end where I had to take care of aging parents for a couple of years. When that situation was under control, I took a deep breath and plunged... into a geology program at a local university.

You can only put off your destiny so long.

Lyle said...

My dad was a chemistry and biology teacher, so when I wanted a chemistry set, he took me to the high school lab to do experiments. So when I got to college I started in science first going into Astronomy, until in spring 1970 I took an into geophysics course. At the time geophysics was undergoing its scientific revolution so here was an exciting field to study. Went to grad school in geophysics, and spent 4 years there until my advisor and I disagreed. Moved to industry, and gradually walked over to the computer side of the business over about 20 years.