Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cashmere and Caviar

Paul Sereno does a TED talk looking at the evolution of dinosaurs and his exploration in Niger in building a family tree of dinosaurs.

A few days ago, I posted about what happens when you are 'too far down the line' meaning that you have committed yourself to one idea or career or belief and it just costs too much to change. Paul Sereno started out life as a failure at school. He really didn't like science. He loved art... and went on to become an artist. A chance visit to a Natuaral History museum got him fascinated and he never looked back. He is now an eminent scientist on a mission to get children interested in science.

A couple of things stood out for me in his talk. One was how hard scientists end up working, presumably for very little. Once you have enough to eat, and a certain level of security... some people do things just because they find them fascinating. I love that word. Fascinating. Imagine that was how you got to approach your day at work. I am lucky, that is how I do feel about my job but there are too many people who just accept the way it is.

Dan Gilbert in 'stumbling on happiness' points out that it is not long ago that the three most important questions in determining how happy we were were not questions over which we had control:

1) Where do you live?
2) What do you do?
3) Who do you spend your time with?

It is not long ago that we had to live where we were born, do what our parent of the same sex did, and spend time with the people who lived where we lived.

You now have a choice. And that doesn't stop once you have sunk costs. If you are an artist who gets fascinated by science, it is easier now than ever to change. If you are an scientist fascinated by art... likewise.

Aah... but the spanner in the works. You have to put the food on the table. So maybe this is a very first world kind of idea. More than likely it is. But I suspect the actual level of wealth you need for the basics is not really that high... and if you get fascinated by science or knowledge or ideas or anythings other than cashmere and caviare, the world is yours for the taking.

Exciting times.
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