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Rock Star

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

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Click here for Joe’s profile.

We were pretty excited when Joe DeGeorge came to our set. We’d met some other scientists who

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thought they were rock stars. But Joe really is one. In his SLoS videos, Joe talks about some similarities between rocking with his band, Harry and the Potters, and doing his science. In one of the pieces that got left on the cutting room floor, he also spoke about one of the differences:

“The sort of satisfaction I get out of music is that there’s almost this instant gratification of making something—when you play a show, people are there, and clapping for you, and excited for you. Whereas in science, if I’m just at my lab, mixing some stuff up, maybe I make a new compound—but nobody’s there, cheering for me. There aren’t a hundred people standing outside my lab, going ‘Yeah! Do it again! One more!’ I mean that would be great if that happened in science. But it’s hard to imagine a giant laboratory on stage with some guy mixing stuff together and not knowing what’s going to happen. Most of the time, people would just be like, ‘Oh—that didn’t work….’”

Joe rocks our set. (Photo by Laura Willcox)

For better and for worse, what Joe says is true. In one of his videos, you can hear us clapping after he sings his impromptu composition, “Dick Feynman.” But we didn’t clap at all when Joe was telling us about growing crystals in the lab. Not even a little.

So if science is short on rock-star adulation, what’s in it for Joe?

“I get a great satisfaction in knowing that we as a species are looking for new things and exploring the universe we live in, to see what’s really out there, and trying to understand how it works, and where it’s going—and where it came from. It’s almost like it fulfills, that sort of religious nature people have, the need to explain the universe—that’s what science does for me. So, being able to explore the unexplored is—I imagine I get the same feeling that an ancient shaman would, working with magical materials. When I do science, I’m trying to do something no one’s ever done before.”

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Dumbledore would be proud.

Watch Joe’s videos, follow his links, and ask him questions in the post under this one.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.