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What Got You Interested in Science?

Cosmic Variance
By Sean Carroll
Feb 10, 2010 4:44 PMMay 17, 2019 8:25 PM


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Yesterday’s book club raised the question of what first inspires young people to get interested in science. Many Cosmic Variance readers aren’t scientists at all, but a lot of you are. So — what first set you down this road? For purposes of this highly non-scientific investigation, let’s define “scientist” fairly broadly, as someone who has either received a bachelor’s degree in some scientific field, or is currently on the road to doing so (e.g. someone currently in high school or college). Even if you’re not currently a full-time scientist, we’ll count you if you got the degree.

Here’s a poll based on my quick guesses as to what might be the leading causes of nudging people into science.

What first inspired you to study science?Parent, relative, or friend.Role model outside friends and family.Teacher or a particular class.Science fair, mathletics, or other scholastic activity.Personal hobby or tinkering.Science books (non-fiction).Science fiction or fantasy literature.Movies, TV, radio.The internet (for you youngsters).Other

I’d be very interested to hear if I’m leaving out some hugely influential category. And you can vote for more than one thing, if you think you were influenced by multiple sources. Among the many flaws of this kind of poll is that you might not actually remember what first inspired you — maybe it was hearing something on the radio, which made you go check out a book, but you remember the book and not the radio show. So be it; just try your best to be honest.

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