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Just Do What It Is That You Like

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

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So we’ve talked with a lot of scientists while producing “Secret Life.” And one thing we’ve learned is that great scientists love what they do. They have a passion for their science that helps them transcend the inevitable obstacles. Without that passion, science—just like any other field—isn’t particularly exciting or dynamic. Without that passion, science is a job.

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What triggered the SLoS team to reflect so deeply today? It was a story Gavin Schmidt told us about how his father helped to turn his own disappointments into an opportunity—and ultimately, a life’s work—for his son:

“My father had interests very similar to mine—he was very sharp. He liked doing mathematical problems—and we’d share that when I was a kid. When he was younger, he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted. His father told him that he had to go and do a chemistry degree, which he hated, and he spent his entire degree, I think, playing pool and goofing off. He ended up being an engineer and he hated being an engineer.

“When I was growing up, I said to him, ‘I don’t really know what it is that I want to do, but I really like doing math.’ And he said, ‘Just do what it is that you like.’ And I think that’s a great attitude. My parents were always supportive of the idea that I should do what it is that I’m good at and that I like. There’s a phrase—I can’t remember who said it—but it says, ‘Do what it is that you love to do and contrive to get paid for it.’ And that’s exactly what I’ve managed to do.”

The SLoS team—and Gavin’s dad—all hope you’ll do what it is that you like, most especially if that includes watching Gavin’s videos, following his links and asking him questions in the post below this one.