The Mind of a Scientist = The Mind of an Artist/Musician

esylander at NETMAIL.HSCBKLYN.EDU esylander at NETMAIL.HSCBKLYN.EDU
Thu Jan 23 10:15:01 EST 1997


Hey Airlie,

      Your SOO right. Lab work does make good poems, but my favorite sometimes
is the,"you know you work in a lab when..." or, "How many graduate students/
techs does it take to..." We get bored when we have to wait for things in my
lab, so we make up stuff. However, I have made poems about my lab organism,
which is Saccromyces cerevisiae, the lowly yeast. I won't start. 
     The subject of scientific writing, however, is one that would take days to
discuss. Only if it is absolutely neccessary will I read some kinds of
scientific papers, but never after a heavy pasta meal, and always with vast
quantities of coffee on hand. How could a scientist ever be an insomniac? Just
take a paper about G proteins to bed with you, and SNORE. 
     The scientific papers could easily be livened up. Most of the time I think
that a scientist's natural sense of humor is being stifled. I KNOW. The reason
that papers are so boring is because only people with no sense of humor get to
the positions of power, because no decent scientist wants it. What would you
rather do, shuffle papers all day  and deal with stupid people, or be in the
lab doing exciting and novel research? (most of the time.)

End of my ranting

Beth 
SUNY Brooklyn 
_______

I think this is an interesting thread.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately. I fall into the
scientist/writer category. I know when I was in college I had to make a
choice between a biology major and a creative writing major. The choice
was obvious. If I chose the creative writing major I would not be able to
continue doing biology. If I chose the biology major I would be able to
keep writing.

Now I am a research assistant at a university. I have a great job, a
decent income, and a unique source of metaphor when I go to write. I find
that long tedious protocols produce some of my best poems. I participate
in a writing workshop which meets after work. I'm quite happy.

The only conflict I've run into so far is that I get frustrated with the
very poor quality of scientific writing. Sometimes I think in an attempt
to sound "scientific", scientists make their language far more awkward
than it needs to be. "The drier the more scientific" seems to be the
unstated understanding. 
Emotion is absolutely not allowed. God forbid you be excited about your
work. A paper must appear to  be completely impersonal. I'm sure there is
a reason for this, but I wonder about it sometimes. I have heard an
argument that emotion is not considered scientific because it is
considered a female trait. What do you readers think? 

-Airlie


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