Scientists are specialists in something, which makes them exceptionally aware of very tiny specific things which go unnoticed by most people. For instance, I share my home with one scientist with far too much knowledge of microbiology, which makes her go all OCD over how fresh food is. Or when I go outside with my nature savvy colleagues, where I see pretty trees they see species dynamics and that the landscape is managed in a certain way. Once, a simple rhetorical question on the recycling system in Belgium earned me an automatic lecture from a materials engineer about the properties of different plastics. And I bet I can be really annoying when people tell me they only buy local to lower their carbon footprint.
This has a fun side: the stereotypes, the unexceptional lit up by wit and knowledge prosified by the trite… Particularly when they’re hanging out, relaxed, leisurely enjoying the sun or a boring meal and suddenly the specialization kicks in and molds into hardcore geeking moment. I’ve found myself involved in a “guess the bird species from the song” contest over lunch and listening to two astrophysicists discussing their notions of time and space whilst slightly intoxicated with red wine. Last night, I witnessed another memorable occurrence, when one of the guys unwaveringly said:
“What I’m asking is: are fake boobs non-newtonian fluids?”
And no one was even drunk.