November 07, 2010

Motivation to do science

First of all, I would like to welcome every reader to our blog. We hope we can interest you at least a little in science and make it more understandable why people in the prime of their live like to spend time day, night and weekends in labs and in front of computers instead of partying and just having a good time. But actually, to be honest we do have a good time. And here is why…
The way people get into science is very diverse but we all share on basic trait that a scientist can’t do without, curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat but luckily the cat has nine lives. This analogy is actually truer than you would think. One of the first things you have to learn to deal with in science is failure. And frustration. So if you are not curious or enthusiastic about science you probably won’t make it. One of the things I think makes a good scientist is the ability to ask the question everyone in the room is thinking about but no one dares to voice. Call that curiosity for lack of a better word.
Children are the quintessential scientists. Full of enthusiasm and an insatiable curiosity for the world that surrounds them, they go forth and explore their world. And this curiosity is the hardest thing to conserve when you get older. Other, more important things start to enter the equation of what makes our life successful (family, money, power). So science is also escapism in a way. Because despite its rigorous rules for publication and proper research, most scientists are whimsical, funny and most importantly, curious. Basically, scientists didn’t really want to grow up but still made something out of their natural strengths.
But why do we accept to bear the common failures and frustrations of daily lab work? I think the reason is that we want to understand and we love it when all parts of a puzzle come together and form a stunning no picture of the world that surrounds us. And we are the first to have a glimpse. This glimmer of knowledge is what we are after. If you look into the past, you will always see that science is the great door opener to improving the human condition. Curing numerous diseases, developing clean, sustainable sources of electricity, increasing the quality of life for everyone on this planet are some of the key challenges for humanity. Science can solve or at least help to solve most of them.
Most scientists are not Marie Curie, Robert Koch, Louis Pasteur or Leonardo da Vinci. But we all strive for that flash of genius and that brilliant deduction about the world that surrounds us. Whenever we understand something, we want more. And we never give up. We always look for the next puzzle to solve or when we solve one, we only see it as a small part of an even bigger picture.

Clemens Heilmann

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