‘Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without’. James Dobson*
By that logic I should be married to Richard Fidler (You didn’t expect that did you cougars? You thought I would nominate some Vikings or GoT cast member didn’t you?).
If it weren’t for the rich caramel tones of Richard’s vocals administered daily via the Conversations podcasts I would have gone stark raving mad* during my time as a stay at home Mum. Now I’m back at work I’m suffering serious Richard withdrawals. Recently however I managed to get a fix – by wrestling the iPad away from the six year old and listening to Conversations whilst preparing dinner. Multitasking is a necessary evil.
In a somewhat incestuous move, Richard was interviewing former 702 host and world’s most charismatic mathematician Adam Spencer (though I doubt he sees himself that way and other mathematicians may protest). It was a bit of a nostalgia trip. I remember Adam Spencer strutting around Sydney Uni in the early 1990s like he owned the place. To be fair he was president of the Student Representative Council so he kind of did own the place. Funnily much of his strutting occurred in the Wentworth Bar, a venue where flanno and trackie dak clad engineering students constructed the most elaborate erections from plastic beer cups whilst proto-hipster arts students sneered at their buffoonish antics. I even chatted to Adam once, sitting on the floor at house party in Chippendale but it’s highly unlikely he’d remember that conversation.
Fast forward 25 years (fuck I am old) and I’m listening to Adam speak with a mixture of admiration and envy. There is something captivating about an individual who is completely besotted by their field – hence the admiration. When you get him onto the topic of prime numbers the excitement is palpable. He sums up (pun unintended) his passion eloquently -” Maths is beautiful. It’s natural. It’s everywhere. Numbers are the musical notes with which the symphony of the universe is written.” This resonates – my mother used to say much the same thing. Yet at the same time makes me feel like a complete dunder head. He is right of course – mathematics (the scaffolding of physics) is the most succinct way we can understand the universe. Buggered if I’ll ever have even the most simplistic grasp of most of it – hence the envy.
People like Adam and his bro Karl Kruszelnicki have the ability to shake our mindset, elevate us beyond our own trivial concerns and help give us back our sense of wonder. Others in this basket include Prof Brian Cox, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawkings, Carl Sagan and the God father of all the science communicators David Attenborough.
Listen to any one of these people speak and your hope bucket is immediately replenished. Not only is there hope for the human race, it’s dazzling. We know what the universe looked like when it was 380,000 years old and we know that it is expanding at an accelerating rate. We’ve counted over 3,000 worlds outside our solar system and we’ve landed a probe on a comet more than 300 million miles away from earth.
Closer to home we’ve sequenced the human genome, converted the electronic signals made by people’s brains into algorithms that can operate gadgets via ‘brain power’. We’ve slowed the onslaught of many deadly diseases like small pox and polio and gene editing technology has cured a British child of leukemia. So many diseases are officially ‘on notice’.
This is truly inspiring stuff and whilst we can’t all be a part of it, I believe its important to know a little bit about what’s happening and what’s possible. Sadly listening to Adam the other day made me realize how much I’ve been neglecting this side of life. In fact I feel completely brain dead most of the time as family and work consume every last skerrick of mental energy I have. My focus has narrowed as I try to stay on top of the relentless routine of life. I’m more likely to escape in to Game of Thrones fan theories than tackle a New Scientist magazine these days.
This hasn’t happened to my husband – he’s still on top of his game, building software that’s sold to serious government agencies all over the world. (I could tell you more but he’d divorce me.)
Its time for a brain reboot. Got any suggestions on how a cougar can get her mental mojo flowing again.
Do you feel brain dead?
Do you have a favorite science crumpet?
* Starker, more raving mad
THE FANGUURLING SECTION AT THE END.
First up let’s deal with the elephant in the room. This was my reaction to the news that former top banana Tom Hiddleston is dating Taylor Swift a mere 2 weeks after she broke up with paramour Calvin Harris.
I can’t bring myself to fire Tom from Team Crumpet like I fired Fassbender (due to assault allegations) but he is sooooooo demoted. Let us never speak of it again – save to say all you Jake G and Harry Styles fans – I feel your pain accutely.
Meanwhile I am finding consolation in Aiden Turner.