Friday, November 5, 2010
Science and Coffee
A few posts back we asked the question about the link between scientists and coffee. It turns out that the Ask Dr. Science column provided the spot-on answer years ago.
Q. Why do scientists drink so much coffee? I just got my PhD and I don't like coffee. Will I have to learn to drink it now?
A. Unfortunately, yes. Coffee is essential to any scientist - pots and pots of it. One cup simply won't do it, nor will decaffeinated brands. In order to function as a true scientist (or computer programmer for that matter), you must possess what the lay person calls "coffee nerves." Science calls this "hyper synaptic calculosis." What most people think of as the jitters is actually a state of creativity. The scientist or computer analyst who is not "jittery" is merely thinking. Thinking is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. You must make those great intuitive leaps, from the lowly atom to the mighty stars and back again, in split-seconds. Coffee lets you do this. Of course, your hand is usually shaking so uncontrollably you cannot even read your own notes, but that's part of the price you pay. And, pal, if you can't pay that price, you'd better get out now.
There you have it. Sound advice.