I Love Science Because
I love Science because I love plants. I love that they are so different than we are, and so fundamentally unknowable because of it. I love how they flaunt their success and tower over us, living longer, growing bigger and never coming inside out of the rain. I love to pull their leaves off and the end of an experiment, telling them, “Ok you little f*ckers, you controlled my life for three months and now I control yours”. I love that IRB doesn’t give a shit if I do this.
I love Science because I love the look I get when I explain something complicated and it really gets through. I love Science because I love the look I get when I set someone’s Crackpot Radar off.
I love Science because it is so frivolous and lets me study things that went extinct long ago and are never coming back. My research is like my earrings that don’t keep me warm or dry, and they only glitter if you stand very close and like that sort of thing. I love Science because it is so necessary and every screw in every doorknob was first a calculation of rotational force, was first an experiment testing the tensile strength of a metal alloy.
I love Science because we make it up as we go along. Each season we create a new terminology from scraps of last year’s jargon like hipsters putting together an outfit at the Goodwill. I love to talk oh-so-seriously about Biomineralization, Geobiology and Paleoanthroposols at a conference that is actually an expensive Gen-X coffee house poetry slam. I love Science because when I talk off-the-cuff about my research I find useful only simple words like work, try, want, care and love love love.
I love Science because it lets me be a child, to play in the dirt and laugh. I love Science because it lets me be a teenager, to rebel and defy the university and demand to borrow its car keys on the same day. I love Science because it lets me be an adult, responsible for machines that cost more than my house. I love Science because it will never make me retire, and so someday I will be a wrinkled old lady in a dusty outmoded lab, providing a safe place for yet another nineteen year old who feels like they don’t belong anywhere else. I love Science because it is my life.
I love Science because it lets me interact with young people who are trying to grow and change, and this has preserved me body and soul to the point that I may move undetected amongst them. I love Science because it lets me ignore old people who are convinced that the world used to be so much better despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I love Science because my hopeless task is to transform myself into the impossible, to get a little less stupid each day until I finally know it all. I love Science because I have co-workers closer than siblings, who wouldn’t throw themselves in front of a bus for me, but would certainly throw with me, which I much prefer.
I love Science because I am constantly mistaken for a student, a secretary, a waitress. It makes me remember being with my father at the community college where he taught, and the many who mistook him for a janitor after hours. I remember how he would get out his huge ring of keys and amicably open whatever door they needed. And how he would look at me hard and tell me to remember this, because there is dignity in all work that needs doing.
I love Science because it is the only friend I have that will stay up punishingly late with me and still get up early with me in the morning.
I love Science because if you look at my cv between the lines you can see three solid years of December 24 and 25 alone in my office, far away from my family, comforting myself with a ragged putrid manuscript that eventually staggered to publication in a weary but greatly improved form. I love Science because in a different section you can see ten years of blissful hiking in southwestern Ireland, the most beautiful place in the world.
I love Science because parts of it are so hard — because after you fail forty-three times in a row, only rarely do you succeed on the fourty-fourth, and only rarely do you get to do it right more than once before it’s time to start in on the next forty-three, which could very well turn out to be eighty-three. I love Science because parts of it are so easy, as it values publication over all things and I can write three pages without even looking at the keyboard.
I love Science because when I discover something new it is somehow mine until I give it away, and I can point to it as my own personal piece of The Revelation. You are welcome to laugh at it or ignore it, but its substance feels real to me when nothing else does.
At least I think that this is why I love Science. But to be honest, I’m really not sure.
I suppose that the real truth is that I love Science because it is very like my artistic high-school boyfriend whom I loved for years with a debased and aching heart. I love Science because once in a very great while, it almost – almost — seems as if it loves me back.Why do you love Science? Tweet me and tell me about it.