Saturday, February 16, 2008

Experimental Verification - Summary

To sum up about scientific experiments, I think you have to really love the nature that you're trying to learn about and the tools that help you learn. Day to day it may not feel like love, and I don't know too many physicists who talk about being in love with nature, but the sort of attention and care given the experimental process, as well as the interest or even excitement about what is learned, is similar to the sort of attentiveness and long term dedication that one finds in certain loves between people. I choose to compare the experimental attitude to love between people rather than love for a skill or hobby, because a good experimentalist has his attention fixed on something outside of himself, rather than on his own activity. Also an experimentalist is deliberately interacting with something that may or may not do what he wants, that can surprise, that needs to be coaxed, and that is hard to understand. Unlike a profession there is no roadmap, instead one is somehow waiting on, listening, and even vulnerable.

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