Science can be fun

Hi all,

I thought I’d use my first post to tell you about how the scientific endeavor can be fun.  When I see scientists in the media or on TV sitcoms, they’re portrayed as nerdy social misfits that lack personality and couldn’t lift a pin cushion if they had to.  Admittedly, there are scientists out there that are like this, however, there are a breed of scientists that enjoy the outdoors and live to do field work.  You’ll occasionally see these types of scientists on NOVA specials about glacial floods and such, but did you know that a “natural scientist” does field work on a regular basis?

This summer, I spent almost everyday out in the field north of Tucson, AZ collecting soils and building experimental plots and shelters.  You might ask how working during the summer in the desert is at all fun – it’s hot, there’s lots of spiny cacti, snakes, and buzzards, etc., but you get used to the heat, drink a lot of water, and your schedule changes so that you start the day at 5AM and go until 10 or 11 AM. Plus, I used a four wheeler to get to my field sites a couple of times.

Mark in the passenger seat

The day that my field assistant, Mark, and I went out on the four wheeler was absolutely thrilling.  We had to take the Charaleau Gap road (the top rated four-wheeling road in southern AZ) to one of my experimental sites.  It got the adrenaline pumping to say the least.

Rain out shelter

Anyway, I was able to hike all summer and I was able to get a lot of work done in the process.  We build rainout shelters at 6 sites in the Catalina’s.  These rainout shelters are designed to create drought conditions under the shelters – more about why I’m doing this in a later post.

There are many scientific disciplines that get to do field work: ecology, geology, paleontology, archaeology, biology, etc., even social scientists get to go outside every once in a while.  This is what makes a lot science fun, it’s not all lab work, and doing math (even though these are important aspects of science).    For those of us out there that love to hike and spend our days outside, “natural sciences” allow us to mesh our hobbies with our work.  What can be better than that?

-Bryan

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