The Scientist

Edwin Antonio Chingate (ESR3)



Today I want to share with you some of my favorite music, and you may wonder: wait! Wouldn’t this blog suppose to be about science? And my answer is yes. I want to talk about Coldplay’s song “The Scientist”, which I used to think was a love song. A song you can sing to your partner, but you can also read it as a love song for science. Not only about the good things, but also the shades that make it shine.

Even though Martin (the Coldplay’s singer) stated in an interview: “That’s just about girls.”[1]. Art is a construction between the artist and the observer. An artist might try to say something based on their own experiences, but the observer would interpret it within their own, as well. Even if the artist explains what they tried to do, it’s not their creation anymore, and new artwork will be created every time someone appreciates it.

Let’s say this is a song from not just a scientist but a researcher to science. It’s a love song that describes a strong passion for what you are doing. Now, I’m gonna tell you what each line means for me at this point of my life, after two and a half years doing my PhD. Come with me:

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you, tell you I need you

Tell you I set you apart

This line describes those moments when you feel like quitting because you’re not good enough for the pathway you choose. In the end, you can’t give up because that’s your life. It’s all you think about, and you need to continue. You will face the frustration and come back stronger.

Insecurities are quite common, and many researchers experience impostor syndrome at some point in their careers. Common statements such as “a PhD is only for the best ones”, can feed your insecurities. You will start comparing yourself with only the most successful ones and wondering why you can’t achieve the same. However, from a statistical point of view, the number of factors and variables to consider regarding what a person or a scientist is, makes any comparison non-sense. How do you define who’s the best?

How many skills and knowledge do you need to be a good researcher? You need to have deep knowledge of the basic science related to your research. You need to be a good reader to keep updated on your field trends. You need to be a good writer to share your work with your colleagues worldwide. You need to know how to use several software to process your data. You need to have some clues on other fields to feed your creativity. You need to be creative in designing new experiments and interpreting your data. And the list can continue because your research is linked to who you are. Still, psychological factors could affect your productivity and hide all your skills.

A career in science shouldn’t be a race, but a chance to share your passion with others. Mindset and results are different when your focus is to understand what mother nature is trying to say instead of becoming the best.

Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start

Back on track, you want to explain your observations and understand what’s happening around you. Every forward step will give you more questions and make you re-think your previous assumptions so that you may take two steps backward. You should double or triple-check everything.

Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Sometimes you don’t know what’s happening. Your knowledge pool is not enough to face your challenges. Things can turn far away from what you were expecting, and your head just exploits.

Nobody said it was easy                                                                                                                                                                                         

It’s such a shame for us to part                                                                                                                                             

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

It’s not easy! And that’s important to feed your passion. Easy things are boring, but sometimes you feel that’s too much. Maybe the feeling of being lost is what makes so magical the moment when everything fits.

Oh, take me back to the start

Just breathe and take a step backward. Check what others did before in similar situations. Look at the most basic processes behind your challenge, and think about possible sources of interference. Most of the thimes, you will realize that you were missing only a tiny detail.

I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart

Understanding what mother nature is telling you is like a puzzle. You will get some experimental data and try to explain what you can see with your previous knowledge. You have to guess and make assumptions because most systems are extremely complicated, and you can’t address all factors simultaneously.

Questions of science, science and progress                                                                                                                              

Do not speak as loud as my heart

We can find two kinds of motive forces for scientists, external and internal. While the first one refers to applied science, research that would directly use for society; the second one refers to the one driven by curiosity and passion.

But tell me you love me, come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start

You want to get some feedback. You want to understand what’s happening and see the pieces of the puzzle fit. You want to get some love back from your science.

Running in circles, chasing our tails

Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start
Oh ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh
Ah ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh
Oh ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh
Oh ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh

So, if things are not going well, that’s part of the learning process. Just take a step back and Oh ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh


(1) The scientist (song), Wikipedia.