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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2012 > Article Detail

ESSAY

100 Reasons to Become a Scientist or Engineer

On our 75th anniversary, we collected 75 reasons. Now we've added 25 more

The Editors

78
Brendan Murphy

Click to Enlarge ImageAs a kid, I was never interested in rocks, minerals or fossils. I mistakenly thought that geology was merely the study of rocks, and so it never caught my attention. In my first year in university, I had to pick four science subjects out of six. Geology had its lab periods in the mornings, and I chose to do it so that I could devote more afternoons to my real passion—horse racing! But I had a brilliant first-year professor who taught me that geology is really the study of the evolution of the Earth, its atmosphere, oceans, life as well as the solid earth. This professor delivered spell-binding lectures demonstrating that most of that evolution is recorded in the rocks and minerals, and that our task is to decode that history. After one field trip, we all repaired to a local hostel where the professor demonstrated how continents float using a pint of Guinness. I was hooked! Over the years, I realized that deducing the Earth’s history is like solving a sudoku puzzle. Because we live on a dynamic planet, much of the evidence of the Earth’s evolution has been obliterated by the ravages of time, like the blank squares in a sudoku puzzle. But by careful investigation of what is preserved, we can fill in those blanks and come to a comprehensive understanding. As an added bonus, we get to travel to see some of the Earth’s great natural treasures. I write this on Kentucky Derby day. My passion for horse racing is as strong as ever—and is directly responsible for my career path!

Brendan Murphy

Professor of Earth Sciences

St. Francis Xavier University




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