As I mentioned once, my life as a scientist more or less started when I read a book by a woman who built a marine research lab, now Mote Marine Lab in Florida, with her own hands in the 1950s. Among other general awesomeness, Dr. Clark personally dragged 14-foot sharks to a big shark pen to prove that they have color vision, learn surprisingly fast (think golden Retriever, but replace fetch with biting things), use electric fields to make their ‘final approach’ and love the sound of struggling fish almost as much as the smell of blood.
Dr. Clark also struck an early blow for shark conservation when she showed that contrary to the myths of fishermen who slaughtered sharks on general principle, most sharks get along fine with others unless you sound and smell like a struggling, bleeding fish*.
All of this is to say that, granting some artistic license, XKCD pretty much told my story. Also see here.
(*) Do not try to explain this to the great white that took you for a healthy seal, or the tiger, bull or oceanic whitetip that bit you because it’s a day of the week ending in ‘y’.
1. That is a really cool story.
2. I <3 XKCD
I was staying in a house about 100 yds. away from where this happened.
It was really big news for exactly 7 days.
Oh, and I am very pro shark conservation! w00t! sharx!
Nice post, Tim! It’s always fascinating to me to learn what, exactly, made people choose their life’s path. Would make a nice open thread sometime; there are so many amazing and interesting people here at The Juice!
That’s small comfort to those of us who sound and smell like struggling, bleeding fish. Isn’t it bad enough that we have so much trouble getting dates?
I wonder if Randal Monroe has realized he can pretty much control the world though geek minions at this point.
My experience was just like yours. Except it was in a movie theater watching Jaws as a young kid, around 11 or 12.
Forty years later I’m still fascinated and awed by sharks, hence the handle here and matching tattoo.
Before I grow up, I want to swim with the great white shark, or some kind of shark, hopefully something a bit more menacing than a nurse or sand shark, though.
I met Dr. Clark when she was at the Univ. of MD. An interesting person.
I love Dr. Clark — my son watched her films over and over when he was a kid. So glad to hear she inspired you!
‘course, you could read the xkcd cartoon differently.
since the key to the narrative is that the science experiment went *wrong* you could conclude that the little girl is going to be very disappointed when she finds out what it is that scientists do on a day to day basis. if the experiment had gone, right? no panic and mayhem in the streets.
mostly boring stuff. very few opportunities to launch balloon-lift sharks on an unsuspecting populace.
almost no opportunities for sharks with frigging lasers on their heads.
i mean, just imagine trying to get that past the human subjects board.
Jay in Oregon
When you can convince people that generating arbitrary GPS coordinates and going there to see who all shows up sounds like a good time (geohashing), I’m thinking you’re just a step away from sharks with laser beams on their heads. (Hey, wait a second…)
Why do you think I’m working on my pack of trained attack raptors?
Tim F. at Top:
Wow, just like MBA’s, except for the “getting along fine with others” part.
Me dear old Da’, bless his heart, is exactly the type to ask out loud, “I wonder if it does that EVERY time?”
Much to the chagrin of me dear old Mum.
Given that Monroe got a bunch of people to send him pictures of themselves naked in the shower with a guitar, I’d say: yes, he has definitely realized this.
That is also part of my story. My first reaction to a working research lab was that science uses a lot of aluminum foil. I also noticed that scientists swore a lot.
Still, I did get exciting! As a TEM technician my first task involved a diamond knife, resin-embedded samples with calcite sand grains in them and a thermally advancing ultramicrotome. If I sneezed or looked away for two seconds the cutting arm advanced too far, the sample ran over the diamond knife with a sound like crushing rice krispies with a rolling pin and another part of my expensive knife went to knife edge heaven.
…which may not be laser-armed sharks, but it ain’t bad, either.
yeah, the key is to lure kids with promises of the big thrills, and then wean them down to the small thrills.
with occasional suggestions that greater thrills may be in the offing.
Ah, the power of stick figures. There’s an XKCD that applies to my life, too, though IANAScientist.
Yeah, it’s pretty well known that tiger sharks patrol the reef about 1/4 mile off shore here on Oahu. We have a few incidents each year. I occasionally snorkel that far off shore and try to keep an eye out. The good thing is when I’m snorkeling that far out, it’s usually with some dolphins. If they suddenly became scarce, I’d know it was time to head in.
Hmmm, and my eye doctor worked with Dr. Sonny Gruber at U of Miami doing much the same thing. We had some great talks while he worked on my eyes back in the 70’s.
And this one applies to nearly everyone.
And this one applies to nearly everyone worthwhile (appended).
Jay in Oregon
I forgot about wetriffs.com. Good catch.
*goes back to training raptors to chase mannequins on electric skateboards*
This one made me laugh out loud, literally
But I spent a pleasant hour over there, cause I had to go back and read again once I realized there was alt text to check out too. Thanks Tim.
Fucking bull sharks. The poor Great Whites get all of the bad press when they mistake surfers for sea lions, but bull sharks are the assholes that will try and eat you just for the hell of it. IIRC, all of those attacks on the East Coast that summer (you know, the Summer of the Shark!) were bull sharks.
That still doesn’t excuse Cheney.
“almost no opportunities for sharks with frigging lasers on their heads.
i mean, just imagine trying to get that past the human subjects board.”
That’s your mistake – it’s technically *animal* research, so run it by the animal subjects review board. Provided that no sharks are harmed, you’ll be home free.