coffee shop philosophy

‘A good deal of the hostility to theory no doubt comes from the fact that to admit the importance of theory is to make an open-ended commitment, to leave yourself in a position where there are always important things you don’t know. But this is the condition of life itself.’

Science Aesthetics

I was feeling inspired last night, so I decided to make this purely for fun.

To the moon and back: Cold, dark nights clutching thermos flasks of hot coffee. Machinery whirring as telescopes trace a star across the sky. Intricate, geometric drawings of the celestial sphere. A messy bun and a NASA t-shirt. Filling in the logbook while punk rock blares in the background to keep you energised and awake. Pictures of nebulae and galaxies everywhere, because pretty space pictures is half the fun. Annoyed huffs every time someone mentions their star sign.

Natural Philosopher: Long, intellectual debates in coffee shops about mathematics, physics, philosophy. Chalkboards covered with equations and calculations in a precise, curving handwriting. That Eureka moment while deep in thought, expressed only with a small smile and a scribbled proof on the back of a serviette. Chaotic desks in front of bookshelves groaning with old textbooks. Antique lab equipment as functional decor.

Trust Me, I’m a Scientist”: Large computer screens running freshly-typed code. Neat lab books and PDFs of journal articles. The smell of whiteboard markers. Polished new equipment in a tangle of cables, hooked up to a digital oscilloscope. Exact amounts of chemicals in rows in metal shelves. Resting your feet up on the bench after a long day in the lab. The satisfying hum of your colleagues as they work on their experiments around you.   

Science Expedition: Dirt under your nails and a loosely-bound collection of field notes. Plant clippings carefully taken to be analysed back in the lab. Soft fur on tough, wild animals. The bitter smoke from eco-friendly firewood while you roast marshmallows and listen to a supervisor’s witty stories. Free-handing diagrams while looking through a microscope. Sketching flowers and that gorgeous ocean view from your last field trip. Reading Darwin on the bus home but falling asleep on your lab partner’s shoulder out of sheer exhaustion after the first three pages.

Life is a Science: Scrolling past an anti-vax facebook post and resisting the urge to burn down the internet. Shiny dissection kits and the sharp smell of formaldehyde. Making time to work out and pack a healthy lunch because your mind is sharpest when your body is well. Debunking the latest superfood fad with peer-reviewed journal articles. Making friends with some of the nicer med school kids in anatomy class. Colour-coded, neatly labelled diagrams and a thousand different terms memorised. Getting a double-helix DNA sculpture for your desk.      

What they show on TV isn’t real hacking: Rubbing your eyes after staring at a screen for five hours straight. Having a blank keyboard because all the letters are rubbed off already. Energy drinks in strange colours at strange hours. Being fluent in four different coding languages. Circuit boards and printouts. Ones and zeroes. Running jokes about turning everything off and on again. Rage-quitting when you realise you forgot a comma or a colon somewhere. Black screens with brightly coloured lines. The comforting click-click of fingertips tapping keys. Applying to intern at Google every three months because maybe they’ll take you this time. Writing a piece of code to do something simple just because.

In a rare lapse of judgement this morning, I purchased a carton of cigarettes at Wal Mart instead of the gas station (because I was already there) and spent way more money than I had to.

Now, in the incandescent glow of the coffee shop, I lament my decision before realizing that, due to the incoming inflation, I made a great choice either way because I can use those cigarettes as currency once the apocalypse hits.

Too long, didn’t read: WINNING.