Saturday, April 28, 2007

The "talking science" merit badge

I was a Boy Scout and earned my Eagle Award. At one job interview, I was told that my resume had been put into the first read category simply because it included that I was an Eagle Scout. Apparently, the rest of the resume wasn't enough to land me that job but I'm still proud of it.

But there are more badges i can still earn. The Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique.

My first badge:

The "talking science" badge.
Required for all members. Assumes the recipient conducts himself/herself in such a manner as to talk science whenever he/she gets the chance. Not easily fazed by looks of disinterest from friends or the act of "zoning out" by well intentioned loved ones.

I have always been something of a science nerd and I reached something of a pinnacle when I was able to land a job at the Carnegie Science Center. I worked in the Works Theater doing science presentations. I played with lasers, Van De Graff generators, a big-ass Tesla coil (I also share my birthday with Nikola Tesla), liquid nitrogen and the foundry pouring molten metal. It was great. The best job I ever had.

One time, I went on a trip to Baltimore and visited the Maryland Science Center there (one of the perks of being Carnegie staff is that your ID badge got you into other science centers for free.) After seeing a liquid nitrogen demonstration there, I jumped in and showed them a neat trick they could add to their demos by pouring nitrogen into soapy water.

The harbor there also has the USS Torsk, a submarine of the same class as the USS Requin here in Pittsburgh. But there, tourists simply walk through on their own. When someone aboard asked a question, I naturally piped up with an answer because here in Pittsburgh there are volunteers, many of them retired mariners, who do tours and I had learned a thing or two from them. I spent the next half hour or so doing a guided tour of the sub.

My wife was not pleased that I left her waiting out on the dock.

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