26 September 2003

A role model returns

One of the reasons I wanted to be a scientist was because of fictional characters rather than real people. Mr. Spock, science officer? Cool. Buckaroo Banzai? I decided that I wanted to be him. Renaissance man, who was both brain surgeon and lead singer of a rock and roll band. Living life to the max, going in 20 directions and once, doing many things and excelling at all. That was my goal. To some degree, I’d like to think I succeeded. My career in science has taken me around the world, and I've got a chance to use lots of different skills. Still working on the rock and roll band, though.

One of my favourite science role models is making a return. Finally. Doctor Who is coming back to telly! (Okay, I never really say “telly,” but I'm going for that British feel, since Doctor Who is a British show.)

Dr. Who, for those who don't know, is the world's longest running science fiction show. This year is the 40th anniversary. I was introduced to the character in Starlog magazine around 1978. I saw my first episodes – The Seeds of Doom, parts 3 and 4 (yes, I am a such a geek) – on a family vacation in Texas (of all places) after a long night in... Houston? – where we'd spent rather more time than we expected trying to find a hotel. And I was lucky enough that one of the local PBS stations that broadcast into southern Alberta took up the cause to show the series routinely. I made lots of friends though watching Dr. Who, and wrote a feature article for The Meliorist when the show hit its silver 25th anniversary.

The Doctor represented so much of what I thought a scientist should be. Adept in solving problems of all sorts, whether it be preventing a Dalek invasion or a patching a piece of broken equipment. That “Renaissance man” aspect in particular is one I love (see comments about Buckaroo Banzai, above). Not taking the word of authority (scene from The Five Doctors: Soldier: “Sir, you’re not allowed in there.” Doctor: “Me? Not allowed? I'm allowed everywhere!”). Travelling the universe. Good companions. (And, incidentally, it is total coincidence that one of the longest running Dr. Who companions and my SO are both named Sarah. Though I do have a lot of fun when I get to say, “I'm the doctor, and this is my companion Sarah.”) And it's one reason why I sometimes suggest people call me “Doctor Zen” – it has the sort of same slightly cool ring as “Doctor Who.” At least it does to my vain ears.

I’m happy.

Oh yeah, I also got the revised version of a manuscript off in the post today. That also makes me happy (I’ve been working on getting this thing in print for two years and counting), but I’m holding off on any major celebrations until I get the thing accepted.

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