Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Maybe we do need some stinkin' badges

I like scientists, engineers and techie people.*  On my Facebook friends' list, I have a couple of rocket scientists (one of whom, The Rocket Scientist, is also a geologist), a former physicist, an Oxford-trained mathematician/engineer, a forensic scientist, a clinical psychologist, a research psychologist, someone who does not have a degree but who has done extensive fieldwork with NASA, another engineer who worked on the Hubble Space telescope, a former biomedical engineer, a veterinary student, and a whole bunch of computer designers/programmers/sysadmins. And a sociologist. And a paramedic/firefighter who used to work with large animals.

I think many of these friends would qualify for the Science Scouts.  Created by the Science Creative Quarterly (I really need to do a post just on it), The Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physiques (OOTSSOERAAP) is composed of people** who meet the following criteria:

- not opposed to alcohol.
- fond of IPCC reports (especially the pictures).
- mostly in agreement with the"truth."
- into badges.
- grieving for the slow and miserable death of the Hubble Space Telescope.
- possibly possessed of supernatural powers.
- not in the business of total world domination
- committed to the constant and diligent presentation of science stories, be it to editors, producers, directors, educators, relatives and/or friends of various ilk, in an effort to lessen the gap that is this thing we call public scientific literacy.

I am not sure that any of my friends possess all the criteria, but some of them come close.  At any rate, all of them would qualify for at least one Science Scout merit badge.

The clinical psychologist? The "Sexing Up Science" Badge. The researcher without a degree? The "MacGyver" Badge.  The Paramedic? The “Knows How to Collect Semen From More Than One Species” badge. (Note: this is species other than human; in the paramedic's case, that would be at least horses and cows.) The Red-Headed Menace? The “Special Auxiliary Child Member of the Order of the Science Scouts” badge, for "children who are alarmingly smart about things of a scientific nature."

Both rocket scientists would be eligible for a large number of these, especially the "I AM Actually a Freaking Rocket Scientist" Badge. The Rocket Scientist who lives with me and I were going over the list last night, and he would be eligible for somewhere between fifteen and twenty of them, including the "I Have Gone an Entire Month Without a Bath for Science" Badge.

Many of the people in my life (including all three of my children) would either already own The “Has Frozen Stuff Just to See What Happens” Badge (LEVEL III) ("in which the recipient has frozen something in liquid nitrogen for the sake of scientific curiosity") or don't only because of a lack of access to liquid nitrogen. (Two of the three children would already qualify for LEVEL II, "in which the recipient has frozen something in dry ice for the sake of scientific curiosity.") Not to mention the “Totally Digs Highly Exothermic Reactions” Badge. (These same two children have at various times expressed interest in getting C-4 for their birthdays.)

Many of these badges get to the heart of what is so enchanting about scientifically-minded people: such people are, almost without exception and pretty much to a fault, curious about the world around them.  They want to know not just that things work but how and why things work.*** Sometimes they are even willing to break things to figure this out or to make things work better.

Definitely deserving of a badge or two, don't you think?

*I have hung out with scientists and engineers, and I have hung out with artists.  Although there are exceptions, generally speaking, scientists and engineers are more interesting and have better senses of humor than artists. Lawyers as a group are highly variable.

**It does not actually specify people. I suppose a sufficiently advanced robot could qualify.  Or a space alien.

***This is less than enchanting if the "hey, let's see what THIS does" people do not adequately clean up after their experiments.

No comments:

Post a Comment