Fun with Dr. Science

Well folks, I have to admit that the Dr. science stuff is a lot more fun thatn I thought, So here’s a bit of Dr. Science History.

In the 50s and sixties, there were a bunch of science tv shows and elementary school movies that were supposed to teach basic science type stuff. In those shows, a lab-coated ‘scientist’ guy would talk his way through some basic science principle, aided with a 8-10 year old side kick, who always seemed to be named Timmy. The shows always had a “hands-on” demonstration of the principle, with the mandatory “don’t try this at home” warning. Demos included things like rocketry, playing with Oxygen and flames, explosions, and all the other cool things that attract geeky little scientist-to-be-kids (like me).

These shows were practically cultural icons, and, being cultural icons, were quickly outdated, and then spoofed. One of the better spoofs of was Ask Dr. Science. I don’t honestly remember where I first saw it, but the tagline (they called it a byline back then) really was “He knows more than you do” – or at least something that boiled down to the same thing.  Also, in every episode, Timmy somehow always ended up seriously maimed or dead. Great scientist humour, eh?

Fast forward to my many, many, many years in academia. During this phase of my life, I was not only a hardcore neuroscientist (why yes, I am a brain surgeon), but my paying job (sort of) was running the University Bookstore. Imagine spending 5-8 hours a day in a bookstore that has all of the readings for all of the courses at a major research university. There is actually work to do maybe a month out of the year – when the students buy their books. The rest of the year is dusting the shelves and waiting to see if someone realizes they actually need a textbook around mid terms or finals…. So what do you do? I don’t know about you, but I read. Everything. Literaly. Over the course of the 6 or so years I worked there, I read every single textbook used in every single course at the University.

Of course, being a geek, I was also building lazers and playing around with light shows, computers, chemistry, engineering, rockets (why yes, I am a Rocket scientist – well, at least my dad was. Ever see a liquid fuel rocket fail on the pad? whoooooosh!) and all kinds of other neat things. My friends, many of them also geeks and scientists, started calling me Dr. Science because I could help them out with their classes – even if it was something completely unrelated to my major, and answer (or at least theorize about) the random questions they’d come up with. (It’s worth noting that a bunch of college age geeks can come up with some really wierd questions – especially when aided by alchohol, sleep deprivation, and random illicit chemicals.) It became one of those nicknames that was a joke, but also something of an honor.

When I left University and started working in the “real world”, the name stuck. People I worked with would come to me trying to find something to stump me with. I can’t tell you how many hours of company time I spent researching absolutely insane topics to answer them. Gotta love corporate America….

Then, I move Here (I won’t actually name “Here”, but there are a lot of hicks Here). The land of intellectual dearth.  If intellect were oxygen, you’d need an airpack to live. Folks here consider a brain-bending question to be something like “how many beer cans can I stack up before they fall over?” or “I wonder what will happen if I insert this body part into that large meat processing machine?”. Of course, being curiouse, they take the obvious path, and experiment. In any case, Dr. Science pretty much fell into retirement. For the past decade or so, he has fielded an occasional question, but mostly stayed quiet and pursued other activities.

Then, I retired. And got bored. And started (maong other things) blogging. And one day, I had nothing to blog about, and decided to see what folks in the bloggosphere would present to Dr. Science. So there ya go. Here he is. Having a blast, and fielding questions again. Go ahead. I dare ya. Ask me. Here’s where you can ask Dr. science your question: Ask Dr. Science (please don’t post questions here – if you do, they may get lost in the comments for this article).

Ask Dr. Science. He knows more than you do.

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