Monday, January 16, 2012

I Am a Scientist! - part 2

I am a scientist. Here is me pretending that life in lab is just as I had imagined it as a child...lab coat, frizzy hair, flasks of colored solutions, smoke, and all:

Erlenmeyer flasks are my favorite piece of laboratory glassware.

Here is what lab is actually like most of the time...hunched over a desk, reading papers, trying to understand what the results of my experiments mean and what I should do next:

Sitting like this at your desk will destroy your back.  Trust me!

Realizing that a scientific life only occasionally involves crazy explosions and bright lights was initially disheartening. However, I have enjoyed making discoveries and doing things nobody else has done before. For example, I was the first person on the planet to make this molecule.  Wild, right?!

This didn't exist before I made it!!

The best thing about being trained as a scientist is that it has allowed me to more fully understand and appreciate the world around me. I started this blog in part to share that sense of wonder, and it has allowed me to learn-about/write/share all sorts of stories about peefireheliumnuclear radiation, etc.

Another amazement-sharing outlet is giving science demonstrations in elementary school classrooms. The kids get most excited (as do I) about the demonstration at the end involving orange, green, and pink flames.

A solution of lithium chloride in methanol sprayed into a flame. Try this at home only after growing a big beard that your girlfriend hates.  Just kidding, don't try this at home.

As time has gone by I have become less interested in pushing the boundaries of knowledge through research and more interested (perhaps selfishly?) in pushing the boundaries of my own knowledge by reading about other people's research.

Knowledge feels good.

My problem is that research, not learning/communication, currently pays the bills. How do I switch this around? Perhaps I could be blogging differently, or using another medium...the possibilities are endless!

With the goal of starting to figure this out, I am attending a conference in North Carolina for like-minded science enthusiasts/communicators this week called ScienceOnline2012. I am SUPER psyched! I hope I will learn how to improve what I do on this blog, discover new media/venues, meet buttloads of people/collaborators, and maybe even figure out how to get paid someday! We'll see what happens!!

Stay tuned for ScienceMinusDetails2012 upon my return. Topics covered will include fart/poop scienceexperiments you can do at home, and nano brains. Get psyched!

Any topics you want to learn more about or suggestions for what to do with my life?? Please leave them as comments!  :-)

Related/Rehashed Post:
I Am a Scientist! - part 1