Desert trip 2011

Finding Beauty in Science

Humans love beautiful things. There is just something about the concept of beauty that draws our eyes, captures our minds and hearts. The public perception of sciences doesn’t usually include the beauty we scientists see in our work. This past month I was able to participate in two science fairs. The feedback that the public gave me underlined this sentiment multiple times. The comments I heard were:

  • I thought science was more sterile.
  • Why isn’t this more high tech?
  • I don’t want to get messy/gross.
  • Is it dangerous? (Usually said by parents as they drag their children away from the demonstration.)
  • Scientists aren’t creators.

I admit it. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and scream, “Are you kidding me?! We create wonderful things all the time.

The rest depends on the part of the science. In biology I saw clean hoods and super sterile rooms. Then, I saw the same people that worked in those rooms having to analyse animal faeces. Sterile and messy. I used a coffee bean grinder to grind leaves, then ran my samples in a mile long particle accelerator. Low tech and high tech.

There can be messy and gross parts of any science, but hey, that depends on how messy you are.

My expertise is soil chemistry and nutrient cycles. What kind of beauty could I possibly see in my science? I mean, I play with dirt.

Desert trip 2011
The colours of fall at a field site.
Corus, Turkey, 2011.
Interesting mushrooms outside a client’s building.
Colours of fall at a field site.
Puffball mushrooms dotting a client’s yard.
Early morning fog at a field site.

That’s my science. My beauty is nature. But, if you looked closer you could also see more beauty. For example, these images are from the blog Exploring the Invisible.

Moss Cells by Exploring the Invisible.
Mould by Exploring the Invisible.

Science, no matter what it’s form, can be beautiful. Look for it. And, in the comments share your beauty.

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