Sunday, September 28, 2008

thoughts on a Sunday night

Did anyone else watch 60 Minutes this evening?  I hope you did.  It was really interesting.

They took a tour of the Supercollider, and interviewed several American scientists about the experience of working on it.  What caught my attention is that the interviewer wanted some practical uses for the 8 billion dollar project; there were none to be found.  But the scientists were all so passionate about what they were doing.  They were all smiling, talking fast, laughing at how they hadn't been to the grocery store in five weeks because they spent all their time at work.  And I was inspired.

I live in a practical world; my life is consumed by the intricacies of sustaining life.  I don't meet new people or think about many new things, as a matter of routine.  It's the hardest part of my job, to be sure.  So I am glad to know that on the border of France and Switzerland, scientists are working night and day.  They are trying something just to see what will happen, just for curiosity's sake.  They have no marketing strategy, no patent pending.   They are pursuing knowledge for its own sake.  It was inspiring to remember that people like that still exist.


Lane said...

I didn't see the 60 minutes, but I've been reading about the super particle destructor of our universe for several weeks now.

I think that's the same reason I like being in a university setting so much. Of course no one's ideas will have immediate impacts on what tomorrow's groceries will cost (though, maybe some will), but there's still the feeling that the ideas you are hearing and debating now will have something to do with how life is lived in ten or twenty years. It is exciting.

I often wonder if something like the particle collider is similar to something like the telegraph. Something so important at the time when we look back from the age of the internet, but something so misunderstood and unappreciated at the time.

Stephanie said...

They made the point in the interview that there was a 100 years between the discovery of an electron and the ipod.

That's the draw of higher education for me, too. I loved learning for its own sake, and learning from people who were passionate about their field.

Elizabeth said...

I was talking to the girl who took over my job when I left six months ago, and I was exhausted by the end of the conversation after she had listed all the things she had going on this week. Things that I was handling at this time last year while also going through a homestudy and preparing our home for a baby. And last year it didn't seem that overwhelming, but now...I can't IMAGINE doing all that when I have to figure out how to make sure the baby gets a nap and lunch before we meet Daddy for dinner out. It is kind of interesting to imagine that there are people out there discovering new and exciting things that are outside the realm of childrearing.