Science Envy

I missed this by weeks, but Dave asked a set of questions that I was pondering on, but found no time and energy to answer until now.

PZ, Janet, Martin, Chad and RPM responded (I am assuming some people outside SB did as well) and their responses (and their commenters') are very interesting.

1. What's your current scientific specialty?

Chronobiology, although I have not seen the inside of the lab for three years now. So, scientific publishing, education and communication - does that count?

2. Were you originally pursuing a different academic course? If so, what was it?

Yes, I went to vet school before I came to the States. Finished 3.5 out of 5 years of it, too.

3. Do you happen to wish you were involved in another scientific field? If so, what one?

It took me a while to respond to this, because it was really hard for me to answer this question. I love my field and would do it all over again. Yet, I also love evo-devo. And animal behavior. And comparative animal physiology. And palaeontology. And neuroscience. And evolutionary theory. And marine biology. And....well, pretty much everything in biology.

If I could go all the way back to early childhood and got to start all over again, no other science is completely out of the question, form math, physics and chemistry, to archaeology and psychology.

I also agree with some of my SciBlings on the Math/CS envy. I was REALLY good at math until I was about 18 or so. Decades of unuse, and now I can do little more than balance my checkbook.

In 1980 or so I had all the opportunities to turn myself into a computer programmer, but I decided that playing games was more fun, so, beyond basic HTML, I now know nothing about computers, code, and anything related and I really feel a big gap in my knowledge and ability to function bacause of this.

Another envy is philosophy - I never had an opportunity to take a single philosophy course, not even in high school, so I am completely self-taught and it shows.

But after all this thinking, I realized someting else - I am really envious of 19th century scientists! They felt no need to specialize. Why have to pick and choose, when you could do everything?

Just look at Darwin! He got to travel the world. He wrote papers, technical monographs, popular science books, a travelogue and memoirs. He did geology, palaeontology, taxonomy, comparative anatomy, natural history, plant physiology, animal behavior. Oh, yes, I heard he also dabbled in theory, so he could subsequently do evolutionary biology as well. And many consider him a philosopher.

Perhaps that is why I am so gung-ho about Science 2.0. I see a possibility that the new technology will give rise to new ways to do, publish and communicate science, forming connections between fields that were difficult or impossible to do in the 20th century, when a separate graduate degree may have been needed for such a thing.

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Eh, I minored in philosophy and took two or three courses of it and I have to say that it played no role in my later professional development whatsoever. I guess I can be considered a psychologist but that's just to tide me over until I decide what I really want to be when I grow up (I'm only 48, plenty of time). I have given some thought about going back to school when I retire and training up into some other scientific discipline but I may be losing too many brain cells for that (plus it sounds really hard). Do you need much training to be a creationist? It seems like any yahoo can do that. Plus I can open my own museum (is that a tax write-off?).

"Just look at Darwin! He got to travel the world. He wrote papers, technical monographs, popular science books, a travelogue and memoirs. He did geology, palaeontology, taxonomy, comparative anatomy, natural history, plant physiology, animal behavior."

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century; visting the Darwin exhibit at the AMNH a while back, I definitely could empathize with him, especially when he wrote that he had a "fever for the tropics." I'm trying the best I can to be a well-rounded zoologist/naturalist, although I know eventually I'll have to pick a specialty. Anyway, my full response to the 3 questions can be found here.

Speaking of reading someone's mind... Well, at least I'm glad not being the only one recalling how solving equations was great fun and integrals were just piece of cake. Now when my teens are solving math problems (OK, they are in advanced math), all I can do is to recall through the fog I was doing it "with my left"... I'd suggest that each biology course has OBLIGATORY math class, just for sake of training little gray cells... Agree with you for the variety - I have a feeling that it is the Belgrade demanding schools (at least in our time), that infested us with that "I wanna know all" virus - too bad life is too fast and too short for having even a glimpse into what you would really want to know. Don't you hate that feeling when you learn something only to find out how little you know in fact, and you can sense how huge is field you'd want to dive into and enjoy learning? Drives me crazy... Bora, you must be lucky being at the very source of science publishing and be able to taste a bit of everything.
Cheers
P.S. The only thing that scares me is what was described back in the days in a song "Polubauk polukruzi poluevropom" so whenever I feel tempted to change the path, I recall it and try to stick to the path I've been on for a long while. Yes, if I had to chose, I'd do my best to avoid the traps of half-way. Seen too much of it so far.