What elusive gem of inspiration causes a scientist to choose his or her vocation? And more importantly, is there a way to draw inspiration from these stories, in order to motivate the next generation? That’s the mission of The Elements of Humanity, a new series of inspirational interviews published online by MAKE magazine.
These interviews of working scientists and technologists were recorded at SciFoo, an unstructured conference on Science and Technology organized this past summer by O’Reilly Media along with Nature Magazine and Google. In an ongoing effort to get more students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Dale Dougherty, founding editor and publisher of MAKE, sought to uncover each person’s own fascination with science and how that has shaped their life’s work. “It is important to see that scientists are human and they have lots of passion for what they do. They connect their own personal interests to work they enjoy doing and which benefits others,” says Dougherty. The interviews are informal and offer a view of scientists that is not often seen in traditional media. “I wanted to know what fascinated them most about science when they were young and how they were fascinated with the work they are doing today,” said Dougherty.
The site currently features interviews with over a dozen scientists, including Drexel University mathematician Andrew Hicks, who creates unusual custom mirrors using mathematics, Fiorenzo Omenetto, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Physics at Tufts who is experimenting with silk as a high-tech material, and Heather Lang, who earned a PhD in “the gray area between biochemistry and physics” and who runs an after-school program teaching chess to students. While topically each scientist’s specialty differs radically from the next, what they share is a passion for science. What spark of inspiration can be harnessed to encourage more kids to become scientists? Hopefully the project finds out.
Visit ElementsOfHumanity.com to learn more.