Sometimes scientists feel exactly the same way

Environmental Degradation Captured on Film — via the Rainbows Near the Earth’s Surface
[Via The Scholarly Kitchen]

Rainbows are much more common in near-ground sprinklers than they were 20 years ago. Or so asserts the infamous “Rainbow Lady.”


Yes, it is easy to make fun of these two videos because they get all excited or out of joint about something that most of us understand – that water splits sunlight up into a spectrum of colors, if viewed form the right angle.

But the emotional response, either of puzzlement or incredible joy, are ones that every researcher has felt. It is why we try and understand the world around us. It is why we have developed a system to make sure our puzzlement gets answered and our joy can be spread.

So, I think both of these videos are really interesting, because they encapsulate the reasons why we have researchers trying to understand the world.

Isaac Asimov is reputed to have said “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I’ve found it!), but ‘That’s funny…”

Richard Feynman saw the wobble in a spinning plate in the Cornell cafeteria and had to figure out why. The joy he felt at solving the problem, not only using high powered math but also by using other approaches, simply because it is fun, also hits scientists all the time.

And then, the emotion felt when the things we are doing for fun actually have relevance for solving problems arising around us … well, the second video is a pretty nice simulation.

That joy is why we are so willing to put up with all the failures we must slog through to get to a resolution. But that moment of exaltation is well worth it.