Science Musings: Dabbling + I Really Admire Scientists + Women And STEM

Here is something you may not know about me: I really like science.

Here is another thing you may not know: I am not very good at science.

At least, not at normal science. School science. Hand me a textbook and I’ll be asleep in, like, two seconds. This is because A) I don’t like most textbooks and B) because I’m not that into science.

I like dabbling in science.

Last week I read What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. (You may know him as the author of the online comic xkcd.) I don’t read much nonfiction, but I gave this book a rating of four out of five stars because, well, it’s brilliant.

It’s hilarious and informative and ILLUSTRATED. With STICK FIGURES. In What If?, Munroe answers questions as mundane as, “What would happen if the moon went away?” and as weird as, “From what height would you need to drop a steak to ensure it was cooked by the time it reached the ground?”

(And my personal favorite: “If you saved a whole life’s worth of kissing and used all that suction power on one single kiss, how much suction force would that single kiss have?” YOU COULD PROBABLY SUCK SOMEONE’S FACE OFF IS THAT NOT THE COOLEST THING EVER?!)

This is pretty typical of my science adventures (as I’ve suddenly decided to call them). I try something here, then another thing there, and so on and so forth. I love science non-textbooks – I enjoyed flipping through The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss and Joy Hakim’s The Story of Science series is on my to-read list. I love science museums. I love watching Cosmos (either version) even if I do make fun of Carl Sagan’s hair. I wanted to be either an astronaut or a paleontologist when I was a little girl. SCIENCE IS COOL.

But I’m not hardcore about it or anything. I don’t want to be a scientist when I grow up. It’s not something I intend to devote my entire life to. It’s just a side interest. I can be quite enthusiastic about it – for heaven’s sake, I was part of a girls’ STEM organization back in middle school (and got to meet an astronaut as a result!) – but though it’s a thing I like, it’s not my THING. If you know what I mean.

I dabble in it. I find weird books about it. I like to approach it from a historical perspective – this makes a lot of sense, considering that history is one of my favorite subjects. (It’s a story! Literally! HiSTORY.) I love biographies and whatnot about scientists.

And while I think this is partially due to, well, cool science stuff, but I also like historical science factoids because I really admire those people. As I said above, I’m not that great at science. (Biology and even a bit of chemistry are fun, but physics? Pffft. Forget it. It’s the only class I’ve ever gotten a C in.) So, somewhere along the line, this turned into “gosh I really admire scientists because I think this stuff is cool and I’m not that good at it but THEY ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THIS STUFF OMG WOW.”

That doesn’t really surprise me. I may be a very creative, artsy type of person but half my family (my mom and brother) are MEGA SCIENCE/MATH NERDS. Mom has, like, twenty math and science books. They fill an entire bookshelf. So it’s not all that surprising that I ended up impressed by scientists, because my “thing” is writing and I need like fifteen minutes to do the kind of physics problem that my mom (or Quentin) can do in one or two.

Sometimes I feel kind of guilty about this, though. I mean, I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing experiments and some of my biggest role models are scientists (Galileo, Charles Darwin, Sally Ride). But science just isn’t something I want a CAREER in – the closest I ever want to get to science in my future jobs involves writing YA science fiction.

And there’s a big movement to get more girls and women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mentoring) careers. I’m hyper-aware of this because A) as mentioned above, I used to be in a girls’ STEM club, B) my mom cares a lot about this issue and thinks lady scientists such as Rosalind Franklin are underappreciated, and C) I’m a feminist, so equality in various career fields is important to me.

And here I am, the girl who is like WHOA DINOSAURS and OOH WHAT’S THE REAL-LIFE SCIENCE BEHIND THAT SCIENCE-FICTION FILM and OMG THIS SCIENCE BOOK IS ILLUSTRATED WITH CARTOONS… but my interest is limited and I don’t want to be a scientist. And sometimes that makes me feel weird. But it’s just not something in which I want to invest my future; I’d rather write and become a photojournalist and stuff. So I continue to dabble in science.

P.S. This post was meant to be the introduction for an essay-thingy about some scientists I admire. However, by the time I felt I’d made my point well, it was already over eight hundred words. So I’m just publishing this on its own instead. Keep an eye out for the follow-up post; I hope to write it sometime later this month!

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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22 Responses to Science Musings: Dabbling + I Really Admire Scientists + Women And STEM

  1. Mom says:

    Love this post.

    BTW, I like science too……

  2. Bridget says:

    I’m exactly the same way- I LOVE science, especially astronomy, but it’s really more of a hobby than anything else. And my nine year brother is taking an online MIT course in quantum mechanics, which can be kind of embarrassing sometimes -_-

    • nevillegirl says:

      😀 😀 😀 Astronomy is wonderful too! ❤

      Ehehe, wow, congratulations to your brother! Even my mom is stumped by quantum mechanics and didn't do well in that class in college, but she's determined to figure it out someday.

  3. wondrousadventurer says:

    …if you ever want some recommendations for more non-fiction books that dwell on the sci-fi and fascinating HAVE I GOT SOME FOR YOU

    seriously i read so many science books it’s not even funny i have piles of recs. i feel like at the very least i have to mention that “the science of doctor who”, by paul parsons, is a thing that exists and you might want to take a look at (and that it’s really good too, i loved a lot of it)

    that said… i really am a science person (shocking, shocking i know…) so it’s interesting for me to read posts like this; see the other side of things. i’ve got a weird touch of the opposite thoughts on gender that you do — you talk about the push to get girls into STEM fields (and your not looking at them) making you feel a little weird, i’ve got qualms that my love for science is going to be unfounded and scary because i’m worried no one will take a non-binary, transgender scientist seriously. but i suppose we can both wish each other the best of luck in pursuing the the things we’re passionate about, and still dabbling in the other things we enjoy!

    ALSO “what if?” is the best. i love randall monroe and xkcd so much. it makes me really happy to hear other people talking about enjoying it. 😀

    • nevillegirl says:

      Sure, I’d love some more book recs! *scurries off to see if the library has The Science of Doctor Who*

      Wow, really?! YOU?! A science person?! My, my. *so surprised* 😛
      Yeah, that’s true. Difference in gender, I guess. *revels in our mutual science-weirdness feelings and wishes you the best of luck in your biology-ing*

      YAY! I’m glad you liked it too. 😀 😀 It’s definitely one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year.

  4. Cait says:

    I…I admire science but (like maths and…well, mostly everything) I totally don’t get it. But I LOVE weird facts. Have you ever read Horrible Histories? I grew up on those books. Like learning the grossest weirdest stuff about history always stuck with me…and I would totally read that Monroe book!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Nope, I’ve never read the Horrible Histories books, but I /have/ read Oh, Gross! and Oh, Yuck! and… one’s mostly about gross science, and the other is about gross history with a bit of science thrown it. (Usually about some scientist dude who, like, tasted some chemical he made and gave himself mercury poisoning or something.)

  5. moosha23 says:

    Wow…so glad you wrote a science post! I LOVE science…I love dabbling in it, and I love studying it too! It’s perfectly alright to dabble in science and want to be a writer and photojournalist (that I admire…photojournalism is an art form, and writing…OH MY DAYS, writing is hard!). For me I guess I really do want to do science (although sometimes I fangirl over Eng. Lit. so much that I want to change my future uni degree to literature). I don’t like maths much but I’m viewing it as a tool to understand science…which is going to be hard since I want to do physics for university…and physicians tend to stop writing words and use numbers instead. How daunting. :O
    At first I was apprehensive with how far I wanted to take myself with science, especially physics. I mean I’ve watched Big Bang Theory (and talked to career advise people who’ve taken physics in big universities like Oxford) and they do say that it’s really male-orientated. However I’m not one to shy away from much, and I like feeling all pioneering and all that. Science is definitely something I’m pursuing in the future…but books are such a main part of who I am…I’ve been reading since a young age and it’s always been a sort of staple of my personality, I was always Mahima the bookworm, y’know? Well now I’m the science geek (cough theoretic physics geek) – and I’m proud of it! 😀

  6. Mo says:

    …I’m sure all your future partners would be glad to know that you think completely sucking off their faces is cool. 😛

    Anyways, I’m not a math-y person, but I really love science, so I lean more towards the life science kind of stuff–I am super fond of biology and botany and basically anything with critters. I did conceptual physics, or physics-without-the-math, two years ago and really liked it, probably because I didn’t have to do complicated equations.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I’m sure they would be! Why not suck faces off, if it’s in the name of SCIENCE? *insert joke about bisexual peeps being like “‘of course I experiment’ *pours stuff into beakers*”

      Yeah, I love science so much more when it doesn’t involve math. I do still have to read a textbook for astronomy this year, but at least the subject involves very little math!

      • Mo says:

        I don’t know why I put up with you, dear. 😛

        Exactly. I’m doing a field botany class this year and there is almost no work except reading and hiking. 😀

    • nevillegirl says:

      Because I’m awesome.
      (Also, *squints* was that a Doctor Who reference?)

      Ehehe, I’m not a huge fan of hiking, but I’d choose hiking over math any day! 😀

      • Mom says:

        “….. I’d choose hiking over math any day! ”

        That must have been a VERY difficult decision!

      • Mo says:

        (Yeah, it was supposed to be a Vastra-ish reference.)

        I am, as we say in my house, an avid indoorsman. But walking through woods isn’t really that difficult, either.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yes, yes it was. 😛 I spent approximately .5 seconds thinking about it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      …I’m going to start calling myself an avid indoorsman. 😀 😀 PERFECT.

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