The world’s biggest rock star right now is the James Webb Space Telescope.
There are thousands of scientific specialties; a million fascinating fields of study on which to focus. Everything from the tiniest nanoparticles in quantum entanglement experiments to the largest objects in our solar system has its own scientific acolytes and dedicates.
But the biggest, most influential branch of science, has probably always been the Why Sciences.
Whoever called necessity the mother of invention was only half right. Invention has a million mothers- necessity is only one of them. Another mother of invention has been humankind’s epic struggle to make camping easier- which we can thank for things like indoor plumbing.
Another mother of invention, unfortunately, has been the arms race.
Invention’s most prolific mother, however, has been the Why Sciences.
Many scientists pursue a lifetime of professional obsession in a variety of subjects and disciplines for one very simple reason: They want to know why.
Scientists aren’t all looking for something specific; they aren’t all interested in the practical applications of their experiments and some even less so in any potential financial remuneration.
They are scientists for the same reason humanity started producing scientists long before the first university opened its doors, before the first printing press cranked out its first book, eons before the pentium processor and the Super Hadron Collider.
There were scientists before there were degrees in science. There have always been naturalists and observers of the natural world who puttered around in pea patches experimenting in genetics or noticed the patterns made by the stars in the heavens.
Early scientists were distinguished by the same characteristics scientists still have today: They wanted to know things, urgently. And they were willing to take copious notes.
Thanks to early experimenters in science and engineering, humans invented math and the wheel. Scientific pioneers launched the Iron Age, the Industrial Age and the Information Age.