The daily life of a scientist; part 1, the scientist-computer interaction

Every so often it’s good to give typical readers an idea of what a typical work day would be like for a typical scientist on say, a typical day, things that might otherwise go uncommunicated.

Certainly one of the most important things for many scientists is their interaction with the computer. This can occupy a significant amount of time, up to 100% for some, which is in fact the case with me right now. I just want to explore, very briefly, a couple of typical forms this interaction can take.

In Figure 1, immediately below, we can see a typical working situation for our typical scientist on a typical day. We can note a couple of things here. First, note the minimalist setting. There are no distracting images on the walls, no clutter of books and papers, no other electronic devices, no stupid glaring web pages on the screen. Just the computer, the user, an unadorned thermos containing the entirely legal drug of choice. The space, the environment, the entire scene, is conducive to the generation of focused, concentrated thought, and with it, productivity. It’s sort of Buddhist if you think about it.
IMG_1482Figure 1. The scientist at work at time t = t(1).

With this in mind, we can see in Figure 2 below, how the scientist’s interaction with the computer is proceeding. The scientist is effective, making many large advances in science in a relatively short period of time, and this is reflected in his or her or its continued relaxed pose and focused concentration. We can also see a more expressive scientist here, communicating directly in a very personal way with his “machine”, regarding the recent progress that has been made. Frequently, the machine will respond to these communications in a way that we scientists often refer to as a “positive feedback” or “self reinforcing” loop.
IMG_1489Figure 2. The scientist at work at time t = t(a bit later).

I hope that this has been helpful/insightful to you and that we can explore further topics in the daily life of a working scientist in the future.


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