I came across a student online who was wondering: What do scientists do? What is being a scientist like?
In pondering possible responses I started to think about what science and research is actually like, versus what it is portrayed as in popular culture. I actually find myself thinking about this topic quite a bit. I realize I am a scientist, but even when I am just trying to enjoy some TV shows or movies and I see a scene that involves a bit of science or technology needed to figure something out, my brain chimes in” “There’s no way that would work the first time, you’d have to go through all sorts of calibrations, find a standard sample… and then they would realize that they are using the wrong type of detector so they’d have to go build a new one… but first they’d have to figure out how to build a new one so that would take time… and in the end this whole research segment that takes about 30 seconds on the show should take about 10 weeks in real life”
Anyways, here’s my handy flowchart of the perception of science in popular culture versus actual science:
Shameless lifted from http://electroncafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/scientific-process-rage/