Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to make the money and honies as a Scientist

For the majority of you college students entering your sophomore and junior years it is time to pick a major. I am sorry to report that early college education is over. For many people the early college career involve endless keggers, one night stands, and the occasional night of study.   Good News!  It turns out that this is an alarmingly successful way to work your way through your last two or three years of college as well.

I am not writing this to help those students majoring is hangovers and venereal disease... but more to help the students who spent their high school career suffering from a cripplingly strong skill in math and science.  Hello, you.  Let's get started.

You were not invited to many keggers... most likely the closest you ever got was splitting a twelve pack of beer while pulling an all night Axis & Allies marathon. Those of you suffering from such skills have come to believe that wine, women and song do not lie down the path of periodic tables, differential equations, or field theory, but I am here to tell you that this is not always the case!

If you play your cards right science can be just as valid a path to partying and sexing as a business or communications major. Here is how you accomplish the task...

The cold realities, and the hot topics

If you entered college seeking a major in any of the classic sciences, you probably are looking to facilitate  change and make the world a better place.  No doubt some student counselor along the way gave you that idea.  But selling college is a lot like selling a Slap Chop, only substitute"$19.95 for the Slap Chops and The Graty PLUS a folding cutting board" with "$60,000 for a world changing education". The only real drawback, other than the lack of a Graty and folding cutting board, in the college education is that, by itself, it is not worth the fortune you your parents spent on it.   Your professors, and the Slap Chop guy, lied to you. You aren't going to change the world with a degree in mathematics any more than you will be able to get rid of your food processor after you buy the slap chop.

And neither one will get you as many women as you might think. People just don't care about your education without a little coaxing. Take a few tips from the slap chop guy on marketing, just not on how to make salsa.

Think opf it this way: if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody cares, does a new tree ever grow in it's place? Even though the answer is "yes", that doesn't mean that you can't tell people that trees may never grow there again without science. At that point you have made yourself important.

But, remember, planting a tree doesn't pay well, and the woods aren't filled with wood nymphs. So all the delusions of saving trees doesn't get you a single thing you want until you make other people get involved. To get others involved, you have to make them care... and if that proves difficult, try possibly throwing in a folding cutting board and a Grady to the deal!

This brings me to lesson #1: Get the mouth breathers involved!

You will quickly realize in college that going on field trips with the rest of the student in your particular chosen scientific discipline is horrifying. Doing group projects with a bunch of people as socially inept as you will always be that way. Now, if the project is deemed to be of any merit to the world in general, you can infuse your group with cheerleaders and football players seeking extra credit from the college (I call it "the Grady", get it?!).... so sell sell sell!

So how do you sell a project, you may ask, if the project at hand is rather dull and tedious? Well, that is the meat and potatoes of science, my lads and lasses!

Lesson #2: Make people believe they are going to die.

Contrary to popular opinion, everyone finds science interesting. The only caveat to that is that most people find science interesting only when they think their lives depend on it.

Who would care about fossil fuel consumption rates without global warming, OPEC terrorists, or the potential money they can take from billionaire oil tycoon world enders? The answer is nobody. Well, maybe you and your hemp smoking classmates.... but the average citizen would care about as much about oil related conservation as they do about the abolition of THaC0 in the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd addition rulebook, which is somewhat less than the amount of time they dedicate to caring about the long term effects of mowing their lawn on the resident endangered centipede.

But if you can make them believe that that centipede is responsible for their ongoing good health and prosperity they will be scouring their lawn with tweezers trying to save that centipede... and themselves in the process.

More to the point, if you make the world believe that a world minus this centipede is a world nobody would want to live in, you will be all but guaranteed a grant from the federal governments of your choice, your choice of ready and willing coeds and concerned citizens willing to work for free (more grant money for you!), and the chance of considerable face time on The Discovery Channel. You will notice that every item listed above has a direct correlation to increased amounts of sex.

Now, before you run off and major in entomology, you have to consider a few things:

1) If you major in a discipline that is already saturated, you will find that your future in the field will be a lot like your life in highschool... just replace the athletes with early adopting scientists, and getting locked in your locker with getting stuck in a remote monitoring station in Antarctica by yourself... other than that, the humiliation and your chances for love are essentially the same. Don't buy into the "earning your stripes" mentality. If it already takes up more than 5% of The Learning Channels air time, it's too late.

2) Pick a field that you can sell to the masses. If you, for instance, study the effects of long term hunting by indigenous Eskimos on the northern silvered tit mouse you will find that money and women will be hard to come by. Everyone cares about the Eskimos, and those mice really aren't as sexy as they sound. And in either case, nobody's life really depends on that mouse. This brings me to my last point...

Lesson #3: Blaze a trail!

The real money and fame, as I have already stated, is not in following the pack, but in finding new ways the average person may die. So instead of piling on that particular sentiment, I will give you a few ideas of how to turn your specialization of choice into a money making powerhouse, and a sure fire path to popularity:

Entomology - I have already covered this... but my example had one major flaw: complexity. You actually have to find a centipede before you can ever come up with an excuse to save it. So, instead, see if you can get a modest grant to study the effects of some other well established doom harbinger but then twist it in such a way that your "contribution" becomes the real story. For example... get a grant to travel to the Amazon to study the effects of global warming on the local insect populations. Then, after several months of boozing and sexing the local french scientists, publish a paper that shows that Global warming isn't just reducing the number of insects... but you couldn't find any insects at all. This may be a short ride for you... so save the money that comes rolling in as your fame will be short lived.

Astronomy - This field is almost as filled to capacity as the environmental disciplines. To make a name for yourself you will need to be rather creative. The one saving grace here is that the field is almost totally constructed of hypothesis and conjecture. Once you realize that, for the most part, the understanding of the mechanics of the solar system is already hundreds of years old, the rest is gravy. I would suggest something that the average person can both see, and not see.... so every day will be a reminder, even if the actual story is completely made up. In this case, I would pic a prominent object such as the sun or the moon, then think up a way that it is either endangered, or is killing us. An article that a black hole is eating the moon from the dark side, and the potential catastrophic effects on the Earths tides would be a big seller.

Ecology - This is the hardest field to break out in, but it can still be done if you can "build a better mouse trap". There is always a laundry list of modern conveniences that have yet to be shown to be harmful to the environment... try and find one that is both ubiquitous, pleasing (but not too pleasing), and a money maker. So, attack anything but the porn industry. I am not saying you need to go out and link aspirin to the death of baby seals... after all, that is the eco equivalent of the Riemann Hypothesis, or the Hadamard Matrix... just with guaranteed coitus. I would give you a good example, but if I had one I would be sunning myself on my super yacht with Jennifer Aniston and not giving a shit about you readers.

Mathematics - Don't bother. You might as well resign yourself to solving the Riemann Hypothesis and trying to make it with math chicks. Even if you found a way that math kills, the best defense would be to not do it... and most people are already experts at that form of self defense.

Biology - This is a dangerous field to enter because, on average, the nerd chicks in this field are already the hottest. You could easily get sufficient tail in biology and never once be featured on National Geographic Channel, thereby gaining all of the riches you desire. So now is not the time to settle for "good enough"... biology girls are attractive compared to applied geophysics babes, but media and communications babes they are not. Pour into your studies... or at least pretend to... then for your doctoral thesis publish your study about the troublingly fast evolution of great white sharks, and that they will be able to walk on land by the year 2040. If you can hook up with a similarly minded astronomer that is willing to link this evolution to sun spots, I see that as a win-win.

That brings me to my closing point: Regardless of the field you choose, and the disaster you choose to champion, I implore you to make every effort to set the catastrophe as far into the future as is possible while still affecting people today. You may find it necessary to shoot too far in the future at first, and then continually revise your prediction until people give a shit. This will assure you the greatest time in the spotlight while having the least chance of your theories being sufficiently debunked. And be sure that, should anyone try to rain on your theories, you link them in some way to Big Oil.

If you follow these basic steps you will find that science is not the dead-end street that you once thought. The world is your oyster. Especially if that oyster may kill everyone.

1 comment:

Shawnee said...

Now you tell me. Pfft.