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scientific thrills

Bharathi Jagadeesh bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov
Mon Jan 6 15:53:13 EST 1997

Although I think "whining" (i.e. stating the realities
and being upset about them) is perfectly appropriate
for this group, I'd like to suggest another thread.

Why do you LOVE SCIENCE?

For me, there are two basic categories: 1) really
understanding how something -- practically anything
works and 2) the sheer thrill of understanding
something before anyone else -- maybe anyone else
in the entire human race. 

In the first category (feeling like you
understand how something works) I still get goosebumps
remembering the thrill I felt when reading about the
description of the hemoglobin molecule in Stryer's
Biochemstry textbook. The sheer beauty of the description of
the structure, function of this molecule, and the
added bonus of learning about the point mutation
that causes sickle cell just struck me as the most
amazing thing on earth. I'm a neurophysiologist, not
a biochemist or molecular biologist, but when the
pieces of the puzzle fit together so beautifully, any
field of science rises to this level

In the second category (seeing the "truths" of
science in action yourself) I can still get warm
fuzzy feelings (and through the daily pitfalls of
doing science) by remembering a late night
experiment: We had successfully got a stable intracellular
recording from a simple cell in the visual cortex
and turned on our visual stimulus. Watching the
almost non-physiological response (i.e. a perfect translation
of the visual stimulus) was awesome! And no one else in
the entire world had seen this before. This feeling
of discovery happens frequently enough that it
gets me through the rough periods. 

These two things are the most important of the things that
I love about science, but I'll add a few likes: 1) I like
seeing my  name in print. Yes, I could probably get that
from being an axe murderer, but science seems a more positive
venue. 2) I _like_ the people I work with. They're smart,
driven by a real need to understand things, and mostly kind.
3) I like doing lots of different kinds of things -- reading
papers, preparing presentations, writing papers, programming
computers, writing learning games, electrophysiological
recording, even soldering.

Yup, I feel kind of silly attempting to verbalize these
feelings. So please join me so I'm not alone in trying
(and failing) to wax eloquent.

Anyone else want to answer the question "What I LOVE about


Bharathi Jagadeesh/bjag at ln.nimh.nih.gov

Lab of Neuropsychology
Building 49, Room 1b80
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

(312) 496-5625 x270

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