Sunday, June 3, 2007

On being able to use a basic brain

This comment from a Dr Ellen is appended to an article that decries the inability of many to use common hand tools.
It could be worse. It IS worse. I have a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics. Can't do that without knowing your way around tools and wires. But I ran away to join the museum and became a curator. The museum director often condescended to me because I knew how to use my hands.
Imagine the wasted human and societal cost of educating a doctor of nuclear physics only to have them run away and join the museum. So you can use a hand tool, hoorah. Pity about that brain.

2 comments:

Dr. Ellen said...

Perhaps, dear heart, you are unaware of what a curator does? The job combines aspects of scholar, teacher, librarian, repairman, and warehouse worker. It's definitely not a brain-free zone. Witness an article I did for a symposium:

http://washuu.net/Med-Lec/Return.htm

My main problem with nuclear physics was that I was basically an experimentalist - and the schools demanded theoretical analysis. At that point, I had to swim in the frigid seas of tensor calculus. I barely avoided drowning.

As a secondary problem, I'd graduated at a time when nobody was hiring. The field was shrinking in constant dollars, and everybody was holding on to their tenure with grim determination.

So I ended up in the museum world as a kind of public-access Doctor Science. It turned out to be a good fit. Later I moved to a smaller museum, which was an even better fit; I was a generalist, able to do a bit of everything. And since the museum dealt in the history of science, very little of my education was wasted.

Gary Cruse said...

Making the leap from brain-free to doctorate in physics is like trying to leap the Grand Canyon in two steps. It won't fly.

What a waste of education.