• Question: how did you became a foumus scientist?

    Asked by saida123 to Mike, Anil, Blanka, Cees, Emma on 27 Jun 2012. This question was also asked by lionalmessi.
    • Photo: Michael Cook

      Michael Cook answered on 27 Jun 2012:

      I’m definitely not famous! I don’t think so anyway…

      I think I properly, seriously became a scientist when I wrote my first scientific paper. Papers are exactly like the science reports you write in school! You describe an experiment you did, you write down a hypothesis, and then you see if the experiment agrees with your hypothesis or whether you were wrong.

      Then you send the paper away so that other scientists can look at it and see if they think you did everything right (this is called ‘peer review’, because other people like you (your peers) are reviewing your paper!). If they think you did interesting or useful work, they might ask you to come and present your paper at a conference to lots of other scientists!

      I did that last year in South Korea, on the other side of the world. It was very exciting, and I felt like a real scientist for the first time.

      If my work is interesting and important enough, maybe I’ll be famous one day! What do you think? It doesn’t feel like that’s very likely right now!

    • Photo: Blanka Sengerova

      Blanka Sengerova answered on 28 Jun 2012:

      Like Mike, I can’t say I’m famous. I am still excited at seeing my name in print when I publish my findings in scientific journals – I know it’s a little childish maybe but it’s still nice to see your name somewhere like that when you know how much work has gone into the article…

      To become famous as a scientist, there are two components to it. You have to work hard and get some data but importantly, you also have to have a bit of luck and stumble upon some interesting things to study or make some really iteresting/surprising observations that haven’t been expected.

      Some scientists become INfamous by cheating such as a guy called Jan Hendrik Schon (http://www.science20.com/science_20/jan_hendrik_sch%C3%B6n_world_class_physics_fraud_gets_last_laugh_whole_book_about_himself) who basically made up lots of results and surprisingly got away with it for quite a few years. But I hasten to add that none of us want to be like that, it was just to remind you that you don’t always become famous for good things…

    • Photo: Emma Trantham

      Emma Trantham answered on 28 Jun 2012:

      Nope, I’m not famous either.

      I don’t think that there are very many famous scientists, at least not to people who aren’t also scientists. I know Stephen Hawkings and Richard Dawkins are famous. Which other scientists have you heard of?