Being a Scientist Is Cool
Being a scientist is cool. I should know after working as one for 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry. People generally perceive us as being nerdy, geeky, crazy, eccentric and by many other nouns and adjectives not mentioned here. Fortunately, I was not called by any of those descriptive words. I was often called “doctor” or “professor” by many of my friends because they knew me as a bookish and intelligent person who knew his science and math. Today the image of a scientist has changed over the years to a more updated and cool look. Don’t get me wrong there were some cool looking scientists as far back as Newton’s time. Take a look.
Wrong Image of Scientists
Disney got it all wrong back in the 60s portraying scientists as the image Jerry Lewis played in “The Nutty Professor”. We know scientists are not like that all and they certainly are not mad. Why are they mad? They were often portrayed like that in many “Frankenstein” movies. In the popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory” Leonard is the cool scientist in the group; the rest are portrayed as geeky guys. All my colleagues that I have worked with over the years were nothing like these guys. There were a few but the majority of them were cool, respectable, accomplished scientists like Newton and others a few centuries back.
Scientists are Cool
Look at Newton, the women must have gone wild when they saw him. Seeing this very intelligent, good-looking guy walking around with his long curly hair in the late 1600s. The well known scientist, Albert Einstein, became a celebrity when he came to America in 1933 as a visitor and eventually joined the prestigious Princeton University scientific faculty. The public saw him as an eccentric person with his wild hairdo, but he knew his stuff and was well respected by both the public and the scientific community in his time because he was cool. He was so cool that he cause a paradigm shift in the world of physics. Physics has not been the same since Einstein published his papers on Special Relativity and General Relativity in 1905 and 1916, respectively, and explained how the Sun is able to produce so much energy with his unbelievable, simple, mathematical equation, E= mc squared. How he came up with it is lot more complicated.
And speaking of hairdos, the recent landing of the rover, Curiosity, on Mars has put one of the scientists at NASA in the spotlight with his curly mohawk. A popular YouTube video of creative actors portrayed as NASA scientists celebrating the successful landing of Curiosity to the popular hit tune of LMFAO “Sexy and I Know It”. The title of the video parody is “We’re NASA and We Know It”. The video depicts how cool it is to be a scientist. Check it out.
Cool Women Scientists
Female scientists also often fell victim to this stereotyping as well. They too were considered eccentric, old, and sometimes seen as unattractive females. For a long time it was difficult for women to be accepted in the scientific communities. After all, it was a predominantly male thing to be a scientist in the earliest days of scientific exploration. It stayed that way for while until a prominent female scientist, Marie Curie, came on the scene around the 1890s. Despite the prejudice, Marie was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in two different fields of science, physics and chemistry. Today she still holds that distinction as being the only women and the only person to win this prize in multiple fields.
Women scientists have come a long ways since Marie. Some of them have done cool things like Mae C. Jamie. She became the first African-American female scientist to train as an astronaut and earned a trip into space aboard the space shuttle. She performed several critical experiments in space while in weightlessness and moving around the Earth at about 17,000 mph aboard the space shuttle. Cool stuff! Furthermore, she did not fit the stereotypical description of female scientists.
Today, there are thousands of female scientists working in various fields of science from astronomy to zoology. These women now look fabulous in their lab coats just like they are portrayed in many of the movies and TV series. Also check out the video below of the NFL cheerleaders. Each one of these cheerleaders in the video are scientists. You can go to www. sciencecheerleader.com to obtain additional information about what these ladies are doing to get more young people interested in a career in science and math.
I Thought I Was Cool Too
I can go on and on with the list of things that scientist do today that most people would consider cool. When I was working as a chemist at one of the largest pharmaceutical company in the world I had a lot of toys at my disposal. I worked with equipments with such fancy, long names like High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), Gas Chromatograph (GC), Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrophotometer (UV Vis Spec), Infrared Spectrometer (IR Spec), Ultrahigh Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (UPLC) and Ion Chromatography (IC) just to name a few. It was cool to me to be able to operate all those scientific equipments. Of course while working with these sophisticated equipments I had to follow safety rules and other protocols to protect myself from serious injuries. I had to don a white lab coat, safety glasses, and gloves. Even these items make being a scientist cool. Wearing the coat gave me the appearance of someone important and well respected, especially when worn with a tie and dress shirt. Lab coats came only in white for long time; now they come in other colors and styles to make scientists look fashionable. The safety glasses also have changed over time. When I first started working all safety glasses look like the glasses Clark Kent worn as part of his secret identity. Today some of the glasses look like the ones you see on skiers and they come in many colors and styles.
What It Take To Be A Scientist
If you want to become a scientist you must be someone who has a strong interest in math and science and excelled in these subjects during the early years of schooling. You do not have to be a straight "A" student". Generally, by the time most high school graduates who have a strong ambition to become a scientist already would have taken all the higher levels of math up to calculus in some cases before entering college. In mine four years of undergraduate study as a chemistry major back in the 1970s I was required to take the following courses to prepare myself for a career as a scientist in the field of chemistry: general chemistry, organic chemistry with lab, physical chemistry with lab, physics, independent research, several semesters of math including calculus, several semesters of biology courses including genetics, computer programming, and all the other courses everyone attending college was required to take. It was hard work but it was well worth it and prepared me for a long, rewarding career being someone cool in a cool job, a scientist. I retired on October 11,2011 after working 35 years as an analytical chemist in the pharmaceutical industry.