Thursday, January 15, 2009

Astronomer Looks Back at Telltale Childhood

This article triggered something, and I'll tell you about it after I point out the article.

This is a brief (very brief) interview from an astronomer (astrophysicist?) who is now working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, probably at the Hayden Planetarium wing (if you haven't been there, you should really make an effort to go). One of the things that she talked about was the "clues" that, looking back, gave an indication that she would end up as a scientist of some kind.

There were other clues about her future as a scientist — De Marco would test the laws of physics, dropping stuffed animals out of her windows to see if parachutes she had constructed, made of plastic bags, would work.

Orsola De Marco: I myself jumped out of a window once with an umbrella, after seeing Mary Poppins. That didn’t work either — the umbrella flips. I can tell you the result of the experiment.

OK, now that's freaking scary because *I* too did almost the same thing AFTER I watched Mary Poppins (hum... does this mean that Mary Poppins is a good indicator of future scientists?). I think I once jumped from a window sill and also from a table with an opened umbrella. I survived! :) I also attached these small "parachutes" to various objects and tried to see how they all fall.

Of course, at that time and at that age, I had no clue on what that all meant as far as my "interest" goes. It is only when looking back did I realize all the various indicators that point to where I might end up.

So, do you had any clues or childhood telltale signs that you can point to that possibly indicate that you might end up with the profession that you currently have?



Anonymous said...

Add another one to your list of Mary-Poppins-inspired-Umbrella-jumpers-to-physicist. In my case, I jumped off a tall tractor tire.

Tometheus said...

I too did the umbrella jump, although I think my inspiration was Penguin from the Batman series, not Mary Poppins. (I jumped off of the 1.5 story landing of an external staircase.)