I came across this article earlier (Bug Girl tweeted it) about science writing.
I am interested in conveying how exciting science can be and I have a passion for it myself. It is a part of who I am and has taught me to be a skeptic, not taking things a face value but looking into the data and evidence behind any claims made. While this is not a science blog, it is a part of who I am and as such science discussions periodically come up on here. I linked to the article above as it raises certain questions that I thought it would be fun to answer. (This ended up being a long post so I will stick with this one for now).
The most surprising aspect is how complex cells and biological tissues or samples are at the molecular level. As we are able to see structures with ever greater accuracy and resolution, it brings up a whole host of interesting questions and concepts about the nature of biological processes. Minute changes that take place within protein structures can cause significant differences to molecular interactions and can result in a cascade of events leading to widespread effects that influence the entire organism. As we unravel more details about biological interactions and the tiny nanomachines that make up our cells and tissues, the more we can see how remarkable biology is and how unnecessary and, quite frankly, how ridiculous a deity really is. the deeper we delve, the greater the awe I experience and the beauty that I perceive in how amazing and unique each organism really is and yet at the same time, how linked we are by our evolutionary history to every other organism. I don't think words can ever really convey the majesty it all.
And that partially describes what I also find the most exciting. Each time a new sample is put under the microscope, it reveals an entire new world. You never know what to expect as nothing is ever like the depictions in textbooks or diagrams. Each time I look at the complex structures of a new sample it takes a while, from a few seconds to a few hours, to orient myself, to understand what it is I am seeing and how to navigate around and interpret it. I think it is similar to what is experienced when you travel to a different country. Everything is very different at first glance, the clothes might be different, the food, tastes, sights and sounds of the society around you. The topography and architecture will be different, you may be using different means of travel, and there are hurdles to overcome in working out how to find your way in this new culture. But after that initial strangeness, you soon realize that everything is fundamentally the same. Human societies may have different values, but the individuals that make up those societies are actually pretty similar at the basic levels. The cities and towns may look different but they still will have familiar features and functions. The excitement I feel when I look at a new sample is the explorer in me finding my way in a new environment.
There is another type of excitement. And that is when everything clicks into place. When you have been looking and analyzing or working hard on something for a long time, it may be years or decades of work, and suddenly it all becomes clear and you understand! It all clicks into place. That is a rare feeling but definitely an amazing one that I think is experienced by all scientists at one point or another and probably other fields as well.
Why is it important? Science is a path to knowledge. Microscopy is another tool of science that links hypotheses to conclusions and the innovations stemming from conclusions via the process of data collection. I work in an array of different subjects with the underlying specialty in microscopy. I am an expert in the techniques I employ rather than in the subject I study. I help other researchers that are subject specialists in using these tools to answer the questions they have without the need for them to spend 10 years or so reaching my level of experience and technical skill. In this collaborative manner more research can be done, more knowledge gained and greater eventual benefit achieved than could be reached if we all worked as individuals. It is furthering our collective knowledge and as such, it is as important as any other endeavor for gaining information about ourselves and the world we live in.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!