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Why science?





This appeared in my Tumblr dash this morning... and I was struck by just how appropriate/accurate the statement is!
Quite often the general population looks to research and immediately asks, "what's it for," "what's this going to do for me," and the like... but for a scientist, these are often secondary (or tertiary, or somewhere further down the line) questions. We conduct research for curiosity... for, and this may surprise the non-scientist, the thrill and fun of it.

Some research is based around a solution to a problem that is function based, but a lot of primary research is done because a researcher has a question and they want an answer. We want to explore, to poke around and discover... the utility of the end result be damned!
This simple curiosity, sadly, must be tempered, however. Research takes time and money... to get that money, we must write grant proposals, and most people who might fund research demand results... they want to know the applications before they put their money down. We have to make our curiosity fit within some sort of industry context, and the benefits that might come from it... scientists have to be good researchers, but also good advertising reps to do their work.

Anyway, yeah, science, we do it for fun... the function of it is a bonus, and quite often the functions can't be known or predicted until the principles are discovered.

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3 blog comments below

Haha, totally agree!
Just got back from a college open evening with my son and he soon has to choose his next 2 years 'Advanced level' study in 3 subjects. Really drawn towards Chemistry, Biology, Law, and Philosophy so far, but he's going to have to make that decision himself.
All my advice is that whatever he chooses must be the subjects which he gets most pleasure learning about, and if they can compliment each other then all the better.
Genuinely wanting to learn, for his own personal interest in the discipline, will make the experience that bit easier in my opinion.

...and I can see why scientists 'just do it' for the love of finding 'the answer' Wink
watersoul on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:10 pm
watersoul wrote:
...and I can see why scientists 'just do it' for the love of finding 'the answer' Wink

It's partly about finding the answer... partly about trying to find it... and, at least for me, partly about finding out all the new questions that you didn't even know you needed to ask as you learn more.

Research is a bit of a rabbit hole; you start heading in with one question in mind, and as you explore, you find new avenues to explore, that lead to yet more... human ignorance is a never ending well, and plumbing its depths can be very exciting.
Ankhanu on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:21 pm
Ankhanu wrote:
It's partly about finding the answer... partly about trying to find it... and, at least for me, partly about finding out all the new questions that you didn't even know you needed to ask as you learn more.
That's most definitely the sort of 'loving the learning' thing I go on about with my lad. Nice one, I shall also quote your words to him.
watersoul on Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:58 pm



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