I look out my window at the world. It is a bright morning and sounds hot. The cicadas* are in in full voice, buzzing and vibrating madly. Have you ever seen one of those suckers! They are huge. Almost the size of my thumb. They are greenish on top with wings that are translucent and black veined while their belly is whitish. Their head is mostly eyes. Well, I suppose that’s true of most insects. They shake their wings to make their LOUD sound. It’s very startling when one is right next to you. That buggy creepiness is somehow overridden by a “far out!” factor. It’s a certain “coolness” that overcomes “grossness”. I don’t think other people experience the far-out! factor. I’m a biologist so I figure that I was born with the far-out! factor. That is a large part of what led me into science. The other factor is what I think of as the “Hey, that’s weird…” response. The “weird…” response can be dangerous because if I see something across the street, I’ll cross without looking. Bad girl! The weird… response without the ohno second is dangerous. The ohno second is the fraction of a second when you realize something really bad could (or just did) happen and you say “oh no!” I have heard some people call it the “shit!” response, but I think that is ambiguous. The shit! response could be something biological NONE of us wants to share. But I digress. Far out! factor and weird… response are necessary to be a scientist, but in order to survive to become a scientist, the ohno second is required. You must be able to realize something bad could or is happening and respond. Most people think that science geeks are unathletic and uncoordinated. I must dispel that idea immediately. We are jumpy and fidgety because we are well aware we could get ourselves into an ohno second at ANY time. For instance, I could be trying to wire up a flashlight and when the battery starts to get really hot, OH NO! I’m about to set fire to my dining room table. I was quite graceful as I ripped the leads off of the 9V battery. Or, I could be reading Stephen Hawking’s book and hear footsteps down the school hallway. My first thought would be, “That’s weird, no one is supposed to be out of class.” The ohno second kicks in when I realize it’s the bully I’M out in the hallway trying to avoid. I have only a few heart beats to come up with a solution before I’m removed from the gene pool. If only I could projectile vomit like a Fulmar chick! Next best thing, hoof it to the principle’s office, where I know I won’t be followed. Who says we’re unathletic and uncoordinated?
*Please note, the featured image is of a fish fly (Ephemeroptera). I did not have a photo of a cicada. When one buzzes next to me and scares the crap outta me, the ohno second response kicks in and I drop my camera and run before I realize it was JUST a cicada. Remember, there are old biologists and there are bold biologists, but there are no old, bold biologists.