If You Were a Scientist, What Would Your Field of Study Be?

By: Zoe Samuel

If You Were a Scientist, What Would Your Field of Study Be?
Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Science as we know it began with Aristotle in ancient Greece. The basic method of science, that of observation, is one of the few things that binds all areas of science together. Science is a good deal more than just bones and space. Science can be divided up first into the broad categories of "pure" science and "applied" science. Pure science is intended to explore the boundaries of human knowledge for its own sake, often producing the tools we use in our technology. Applied science does not seek to understand the universe and how it works so much as it attempts to harness the knowledge we have of how things work in order to make products and systems of our own that work.

While applied science and pure science are different, neither is more important. Without pure science, applied science is not possible, but without applied science, pure science is useless. Add to that the many areas of study within each hemisphere of science and you have an area with countless permutations of the same specialties, and subspecialties where larger specialties intersect.

Who are you really? Could you hack it as a scientist? Would you be breaking boundaries or just writing accessible best sellers for the average man? Would you be exploring space, or just coming up with cool uses for GPS? Take this quiz, and know.

Do you spend any time looking into your family history?
Way more than you'd need when you go to the doctor.
Only when I go to the doctor.
My parents told me some stories.
No

Advertisement

Assuming you were a Boy Scout, what was your favorite activity?
Medicine
Navigating
Understanding nature
Knots

Advertisement

What living thing do you keep in your house?
None. I don't have the time.
I have a fish.
A bunch of plants
I have a dog.

Advertisement

How would you characterize your type of intelligence?
I would say it's beyond my capabilities to do that.
I'm very analytical.
Diligence
Intuitive

Advertisement

How much do you like to travel?
A lot! I'll go anywhere!
Not much, but I'll go places when I have to.
I only travel when it's a big trip! Then I need lots of time off.
I don't like to fly.

Advertisement

Have you ever owned a pocket protector?
In junior high
I still do!
Only in college
I have one but I only wear it as a joke sometimes. Nowadays, fabric manufacturers have produced much sturdier fabrics, pen clips are gentler, and pockets are made with a fold and strong stitches, so protectors are no longer needed.

Advertisement

Do you mind being mocked for being naive when you know you're not being naive?
I'm impervious to social cues.
I mind that, yeah. Gimme respect!
I don't mind that at all.
You wanna fight me, bro?

Advertisement

If you could work a well-paid job in the private sector that wasn't 100% secure, or an important if badly paid academic job with total job security, which would it be?
Academia. I couldn't work in the private sector.
Probably academia. The kind of stuff I'm interested in just doesn't have a profit margin.
Probably the private sector, because they might actually make moves on the science that matters if I work for them.
The private sector. Is that even a question?

Advertisement

How strongly do you feel about the need for pure science?
Very. It's the number one need.
It's important, but other things need their funding too.
It's equally important as all other sciences.
It's not very important now. We know enough.

Advertisement

Do you know what Operation Paperclip was?
No, but it doesn't sound interesting to me.
Yes. It was a good idea! I mean, Nazis are jerks, but better we have rockets than the Russians, right?
Wasn't that when the US nabbed a bunch of Nazi scientists to work at NASA? I don't know how I feel about that.
It was necessary, if odious.

Advertisement

Do you believe science's best use is in saving the world in the here and now?
If that's necessary, but I don't think it is.
It's one use, but without planning for tomorrow, saving tomorrow means nothing.
Absolutely
If there's money in it, yeah.

Advertisement

How do you feel about how science is portrayed in film?
It's ridiculous nonsense.
They focus too much on the rock stars of science and not enough on the grunts.
It's mostly over the top.
It's a little fanciful.

Advertisement

How much do you mind being in a hyper competitive field?
I don't mind that at all! I'm a gamer!
I don't mind it much.
Competition for truth? Sounds good!
If there's money in it, I'm down!

Advertisement

How patient are you?
I'm patient when I can work, less so when I'm made to wait.
As the grave
I'm very impatient.
About average I guess

Advertisement

Are you willing to spend equal time learning and proving you learned what you learned?
No, I should only have to publish to peer review! Nothing more!
The idea of having to justify my work to non-scientists sounds appalling.
Yes, absolutely
Look, if we mess up, people could die, right?

Advertisement

What's the most applicable use of science of these examples?
Understanding how humans evolve
Studying nuclear fusion
Surveying coastlines
Maintaining infrastructure

Advertisement

Do you believe you'll do your best work before you are 30?
No, but probably before 50.
Yes, for sure.
No, probably before 40.
I hope my work only gets better as I age!

Advertisement

Do you mind if a lot of your job is about worrying about major problems?
Yes, I mind.
That's OK, if I can take a novel approach to them.
Isn't that what science is all about?
Isn't that where the money is?

Advertisement

Is science best when it is useful?
All science is useful. Don't be silly.
Science which isn't useful today may become useful one day. I don't accept the question.
Yes, but that doesn't mean what isn't best is therefore bad.
Yes, absolutely.

Advertisement

Do you mind having to deal with people constantly mischaracterizing your work?
I don't mind. I'll just calmly explain why and how they are wrong.
Not if it causes people to read the actual science and learn the facts.
I don't mind, because I'll just correct them. Publicly.
Yes, I mind. That's awful.

Advertisement

Do you have any rock star scientist role models?
Only one or two
Tons!
A half dozen or so
Not anyone you would know

Advertisement

Are you willing to work outside the US in order to get funding?
If I need to, but I don't think I will.
No
If it comes to that, I'll do it.
I'll go where the money is!

Advertisement

Do you think science needs to make money in order to justify its existence?
Not all of science is the same! Not everything needs to turn a profit.
Not immediately, but it should eventually.
All science does turn a profit, but not all of that profit is easily measured.
Yes, absolutely

Advertisement

How are you with really abstract thinking?
I do it well.
I'm a master of it.
I can do it, but it's important that we get back to what people understand at some point.
As good as anyone interested in science, I suppose.

Advertisement

If you were offered a spot on a one-way trip to Mars, would you take it?
No. I have work to do.
Definitely. It's an experience like no other.
Maybe, to study the planet.
Not unless the Earth were on fire.

Advertisement

Do you believe humanity's future is dark or bright?
I don't have enough information for that.
I tend toward optimism.
The answer is in our hands.
Have you read the news?! It's dark!

Advertisement

Do you think that humans are required to sleep in the bed we have made for ourselves, with science?
Yes, but we're learning more and more about that bed every day.
No, we're on the cusp of discoveries that will ... er ... change the mattress?
We can remake the whole bed if we put our minds to it.
Yes, but the bed can always be improved.

Advertisement

How are you with technology?
I'm great with computers.
I know what I need to know and nothing more.
I often need help.
I'm a master of it.

Advertisement

Do you believe everything in science has to be immediately useful to be worth investigating?
Not at all
Not for the most part
Not everything, but you'll find most is.
Everything, yes

Advertisement

Do you mind having to explain your work to people who don't understand it?
Isn't that what science is all about?
I'm happy to write books for laymen.
That's the most important part of science.
No. I don't have to explain every detail of my work! Who do you think you are?

Advertisement

You Got:

Featured