Posted by caraher on February 2, 2008, at 8:25:28
In reply to Re: Update » Kath, posted by Michael83 on January 29, 2008, at 20:47:03
> I often wonder if these scientists ever get depressed thinking about this stuff all the time or if they can connect with their human side as well as others.
Depends on what you mean by "this stuff" and "all the time." Personally, I have never been as "driven" as people who do research 24/7, which is why I sought the kind of job I have now, where I can teach (and have it be valued), do some research, but also be engaged in things outside physics entirely.
Most of the people I've know who have been successful in science love it and would rather do nothing else. There's a lot of anxiety over things like landing the next grant or getting "scooped" by another research group, but when they get the chance to set aside politics and money and just "do science" they are in their element. So if "this stuff" is the science the answer is no, they mostly don't find it depressing.
This is also part of what makes what you read so scary. The scientist is usually driven mostly by exploring the possibilities. I think this cartoon sums it up: http://xkcd.com/242/ What's scary to you may be a fascinating possibility to the scientist. That's not to say scientists aren't concerned with the possible effects of their work; reading biographies of the physicists who developed the atomic bomb should make that clear. But the "real-world" implications usually isn't the driving force for most physicists (sometimes they're just a handy way to solicit funding!).