A day in the life of a scientist begins with eggs. Eggs, some toast, and a lovely cup of tea. And emails – but I’ll return to this later.
A few years ago (in the summer of 2009), theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson articulated a vision for the future. He argued that today heralds a new “Age of Wonder”. Its makers are the biological scientists and entrepreneurs, including biochemist Kary Mullis, biologist Craig Venter, computer scientists Larry Page and Sergey Brin, inventor Dean Kamen, and computer software architect Charles Simonyi. As a young scientist, my own – personal – Age of Wonder has recently begun. With this in mind, and it being the start of a New Year, this is as good a time as any to start a blog of my own intellectual adventure.
Although the Age of Wonder is likely to involve more than the biological sciences – for instance, among the most notable stories of 2013 has been the discovery of the Higgs boson, numerous Earthlike exoplanets, plumes of water vapour on Europa, an ancient lake bed on Mars, and the fact that Voyager 1 has gone interstellar, making us a civilisation that has the technology to explore the universe beyond our interplanetary front door – I belong in the field of biological science, the study of life and living organisms. Specifically, I am interested in the most complex thing in the known universe, a thing that produced Hamlet, Lady with an Ermine, and Beethoven’s 5th: the human brain.
So what does a brain scientist do? Besides drink tea and check emails, we ask questions and try to answer them using ‘the scientific method’. More about this next week…