I've had this quote up on my wall since the very beginning.
"We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies."
-- Walt Disney
I think it probably also rings true for many scientists.
We ran a department in Seed for a couple of years called "Why I Do Science" edited by Josh Roebke and Lee Billings with personal essays written by scientists (one of my favorite departments). Here's one by Brazilian neuroscientist Sidarta Ribeiro. I'll find some more and post them.
Why do you do science?
I do science because I was busy wanting to be ether a fireman or a priest and I accidentally ran into this science thing. The possibility of being able to explain everything was too much to turn away from. It did cause me to become an obnoxious geeky kid with no friends, but the priest option would probably have had similar results.
I am becoming a scientist, because I am unbelievably fascinated by the human mind. I get absolutely giddy at the thought of getting paid to research the interaction of the brain, culture, language and biology. I am even more excited by the idea of focusing that research on the treatment of substance use disorders and addiction - an area that is painfully under-represented in science based psychology.
As much as I love science and the interplay of the human brain with, well, everything - I get really giddy when I have the opportunity to hear from people who have learned to manage addictions. I am very familiar with what it means to live with rather extreme substance abuse. Because of what I understand about my relationship with my substances of abuse, I want to do everything I can to explore the immense variety of ways that people form such relationships and how those relationships take shape.
Being able to bring my love of language, culture and communications into the mix is just the icing on the cake.
I do science-inspired art because I don't think we should abandon representational art at the period in history when scientific discoveries have given us the richest visual vocabulary of all time to play with and explore.
That, and the fact that it allows me to travel to remote and sometimes hostile locations and get paid to do so. Now if only it paid really well and involved a permanent position with benefits instead of recurring contracts...but then I guess my world would be too perfect, and maybe I would lose that hunger/edge/eye of the tiger (pick your cliche). Certainly not in science for the money anyway.