Colliding with science

Even though the attempt to understand and control the world is one of the oldest human endeavours, the everyday life of a scientist remains a mystery to most people. What exactly happens when someone decides to start a science career? How do they transform into full-fledged researchers expected to produce new knowledge? And —a question many scientists face at social events— what is it that scientists actually do every day?

The answers are multiple: in fact, they fall on the entire spectrum that ranges from the light-hearted narrative of The Big Bang Theory series up to the dark strokes of the many whistleblowers who point to exploitation, incompetence and fraud, and a fundamentally broken development model as the defining traits of modern scientific research.

So where does the truth lie? Do students choose science to serve society, to acquire marketable skills or simply to satisfy their aesthetic interests? Do their jobs really involve exotic adventures in remote locations, or is the reality more like spending long hours in an underground lab fighting computer bugs? And are they truly only motivated by the mission to advance knowledge, or (not unlike elsewhere) does greed eventually take over?

The Story Collider addresses the issue of motivation by asking the scientists (and some non-scientists) directly: the result is an incredible carousel of tales, all centered on science’s fantastic power to change lives forever.

Some examples? Learn how colliding with science feels from the words of a fresh college graduate left in charge of a $330-million-dollar toy:



or a minority researcher fighting prejudice (and sheer stupidity):



or a high-schooler with no trace of math skills suddenly becoming Mu Alpha Theta’s president: