OK, it’s not an official Ask a ScienceBlogger question (that answer will show up next week), but over at the World’s Fair, they’ve raised an important scholarly question via a scene from The Simpsons:
Marge: There’s a man here who thinks he can help you.
Marge: No, he’s a scientist.
Homer: Batman’s a scientist.
It’s a trick question. Batman isn’t a scientist, he’s an engineer.
I mean, think about it: scientists are about the pursuit of knowledge in the abstract. While their work may lead to future technological applications, they’re usually not involved in actually making those devices. Scientists are about proof-of-principle work, and pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Typical scientific apparatus involves duct tape and aluminum foil, and requires a Ph.D. and a couple of graduate students to keep it running.
That’s not what Batman is about. Batman isn’t interested in abstract knowledge– he’s interested in the application of knowledge, preferably at high speed and to the head of a villain. That’s engineering, not science. Batman’s all about the wonderful toys, crime-fighting gadgets that work flawlessly in field conditions. You don’t go to a scientist for that sort of thing.
Of course, the scientific discipline that most readily leads to a career in engineering is physics…