Which delivers me directly into the pulsing vein of my next point: Science is scary. If you are a non-scientist, the intricacies of the scientific world can seem mysterious, intimidating or insurmountable. And if you are a scientist, you know that science really truly requires deep intellectual risks that ignite unparalleled feelings of unease. Other people might describe this as the rush of discovery, I might too. But suffice it to say that science can at once be unbelievably wonderful and atrociously heart-wrenchingly terrible.
Science takes courage, creativity and sometimes brutal honesty to practice. One has to be sensitive, deeply pensive and yet dispassionately logical and critical. And not everyone is cut out to do this.
I listen to Obama talk about how we need children to excel more in math and science. and I notice a poster at school encouraging undergraduates to pursue math and science careers. But really, really do they know what they are getting themselves in to? and really, should we be encouraging more average people to pursue a career that requires such a bizarre combination of intense dedication, intelligence and persistence to excel in? Maybe its best that just a few nerdy boys in the back of the chemistry room take this on. Maybe its best that most of us keep our distance. Maybe its best for Science that pretty girls stick to being pretty, jocks continue being sporty and that most of us just look on in some kind of half-blind respect and delight at what those hard working mal-adjusted weirdos are accomplishing.