How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
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10-01-2017, 09:53 PM
How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?

Its been a couple of years since coming out of a fundamentalist background and I've primarily occupied myself with reading about and listening to prominent authors and speakers on a variety of topics about atheism and related scientific topics. A result of this activity has been the ignition of a small spark of scientific interest. A precious little ember, lit from listening to the passion of scientists like Sagan, Dawkins, Harris, Pinker and more. It is fostered a little more by the occasional story of fellow travellers who after embracing reason went on to study science. Some even going so far as to chase the dream of becoming a scientist.

I marvel at these stories and in moments of inspiration I dream, just a little. Perhaps I could still explore science a little more rigorously. Maybe take a few course. Maybe get some minor degree. Maybe merge it with my software development experience and send my career in some new unexpected adventure. Yet the realities of being an adult, already past 40, with kids and a demanding, but enjoyable, career threaten to dampen that little ember. Maybe I must be content with just a single general introduction to science course. Or maybe a little general reading. "I mean is it really worth the large amount of effort and sacrifice at this stage?" comes this seemingly rational and reasonable thought. Do you even have the capacity to do much of anything with it? Can you manage it while still chasing your passion for software development? Can you really justify the effort. Is it worth it for only knowledge sake? Is it really worth it just for knowledge sake? Is just asking these questions evidence that this is just another pipe dream?

Yet somewhere just beyond where I dare to dream, beyond the concerns of what is practical and reasonable, there is this small thought. What if? What if you did chase it?

Anyone chase it? How'd you fan that ember into something bigger? How'd you focus into some meaningful direction? How'd you protect the dream from real life?

~J
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10-01-2017, 10:30 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
(10-01-2017 09:53 PM)jayc Wrote:  EDIT: I have self doubt.

The world is full of What-if's.

I think what it comes down to, whether it be science, music, whatever, is; what do you want?

Figure that out and go for it. Follow your bliss.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
Banjo.
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11-01-2017, 01:55 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
I can't really add to Banjo's wisdom other than to say, no one can or should "do it all". Most of us live unremarkable lives. The important thing is not that you are remembered in the town square with a statue of yourself (the pigeons will just crap on it anyway), it is that you did your little bit and managed to enjoy the journey, to love and be loved.

Like you, my life was significantly detoured by my fundamentalist upbringing, but if it hadn't been that, my youthful inexperience and hubris would have probably guaranteed that it was something else. We all have false starts and disappointments and sometimes regrets. We all have to dust ourselves off and carry on from those.
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11-01-2017, 07:03 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
To the OP:

Speaking as someone with a degree in science, I'm reminded of the line from the movie Good Will Hunting, where Will confronts a jerk graduate student from Harvard, in the bar scene at the beginning of the film:

"You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library."

Your interest in science is laudable, and I applaud you for it. But why do you feel you need a degree of any kind in it? There are dozens of top-notch books out there that can help any intelligent layperson understand the major fields, popular magazines and websites dedicated to the latest discoveries, and all of them are available to a person who discovers a recently-piqued interest in the field.

I highly recommend the blogs of Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society and Mike Brown of CalTech for astronomy-related information.

Another fun one in physics (that covers many topics) is The Preposterous Universe.

For evolutionary biology, which is a much broader field (as it encompasses genetics, medical science in general, and a host of other related fields), I'd recommend browsing your favorite topics here:

http://medicallabtechnicianschool.org/20...rch-blogs/

It's an older list (2010), but a good place to get started. If you'd like further recommendations for books, blogs, or other information on the subject, I would be happy to help.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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12-01-2017, 06:51 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
There is no need for you to become a scientist in order to enjoy science. If anything, the "publish or perish" rat race that is academia might well snuff out that ember you are trying to preserve.

A couple of notions spring to mind that might benefit both your career and your love of science:

- Get a few basic courses in a field that you enjoy. These are frequently available free, online and self-paced. Now you're a software engineer who understands enough of the science that I don't have to explain what a rock is every second line of code. That makes you a lot more valuable.

- You don't have to be a scientist to get on with some very exciting projects. It isn't as if NASA doesn't use computers. Ditto for CERN, LIGO, everybody on BOINC and, well, pretty much everybody in academia, governent and industry.

You can do the former to get your foot in the door for the latter but it may not be necessary if you're a good software engineer. Many of these outfits are so specialized that they pretty much have to train everybody themselves anyway.

To make a long ramble short, you don't need to completely reinvent yourself to have fun in the sciences. You're already in a career that's heavily involved in the sciences so a slight redirect of your career path could get you somewhere fun and profitable in a much shorter time than a PhD would consume.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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12-01-2017, 11:31 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
That's a really good point, Paleophyte. Shoulda thought of that.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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13-01-2017, 02:16 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
I've always loved science, but it's more of a fangrrl interest than something that needed to be turned into a day job. At this point what I'd suggest is pursuing your strongest passion flat-out and just dabbling in other things from a casual POV. If one of the embers turns into a bigger blaze of interest, at that point it would be worth committing to it.

Science is just too big to do it all and know it all. IMO, the future belongs to those who find a tiny niche that calls to them day and night.

I'm sorry, but your beliefs are much too silly to take seriously. Got anything else we can discuss?
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14-01-2017, 08:57 AM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
(13-01-2017 02:16 PM)Astreja Wrote:  I've always loved science, but it's more of a fangrrl interest than something that needed to be turned into a day job. At this point what I'd suggest is pursuing your strongest passion flat-out and just dabbling in other things from a casual POV. If one of the embers turns into a bigger blaze of interest, at that point it would be worth committing to it.

Science is just too big to do it all and know it all. IMO, the future belongs to those who find a tiny niche that calls to them day and night.

I fit in that spot too. I went as far as Diff EQ and Multivariate Calculus in college, but that does not mean I enjoyed it or apply it every day.
I am a wizard at the practical stuff for me.
Trig is an almost daily exercise, and I was delighted when Kernel Socahtoa joined the forums Smile
If I can keep up enough to almost understand all the new things that are happening , I am happy to be that cheerleader.
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14-01-2017, 02:51 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
Banjo: The summary of "I have self doubt" followed by the sagelike
"what do you want? Figure that out..". So simple yet like all zen
advice the challenge of a life time.

Mordant: Statues and bird shit, the greatest legacy. Marcus Arellius
would be proud. A worthy reminder. I'm in no danger of that
legacy Tongue.

RocketSurgeon76: I'll have to have a look at those links. I think I'm
drawn to a degree due to the fact that most in my area have one. I
guess I figure the largest expense of acquiring the knowledge is time
so why not get the degree at the same time. But, maybe there really is
more costs to trying to get a degree than learning on ones own,
despite the precieved benefits of a structred course and real
professors.

Palophyte: Your idea's around being a developer but working in a field
or organization linked to science is appealing. I don't think I could
ever stop being a developer, that thought is depressing. But adding a
bit of a science flavour to developing is kind of exiciting.

Astreja: Thank you, that helps ground this conversation. It would
really be unfair to say I have a burning passion for science. Just an
ember, but one I think worth fanning a little.

Skyking: I do wonder if I might like the idea more than the work Smile I
guess we'll see. I have to, get to, pick up some math this year. Got
my pre-calculus book ready -- ya going back to the basics.

Thank you all for your advice and thoughts, I appreciate them.
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15-01-2017, 07:33 PM
RE: How do you foster and protect that spark of interest?
Why does it have to be the magical "I lost my faith and became a scientist"?
Can it not just be a hobby?
Check out some interesting youtube channels like vsauce (entertaining sciency short), todayifoundout (general topics), periodicvideos (chemistry and physics)
Or get on coursera or something like that if you want to go deeper
Or get books
Or get those science experiment kits for kids. You can have fun with your kids or do them yourself but they are really fun
Or just do other in-expensive science experiments. I remember making a catalyst (chemistry) when I was 17 because we learned about it at school. Or you can grow sugar on a string or make your phone's camera lense better with water, etc. There is a lot of really cool fun interesting science stuff that you can do read and learn without having to sign up or officially study it.

Anyway, yay science.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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