• Technical Conference:  10 – 15 May 2020
  • Exhibition: 12 – 14 May 2020

Curiosity Killed the Cat…but Not the Physicist

By Staff


Many of us have heard the popular expression “curiosity killed the cat.” The saying is used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. However, less widely known is the rest of the phrase. In full, it reads “curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

The full saying recalls the significance of a curious mind. Indeed, curiosity has been listed as an important trait of genius and an examination of many of the intellectual giants of the past, such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo DaVinci, reveal that common among these great minds is the curious nature of their character. In fact, it was Albert Einstein that said,” I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." Albert Einstein

Curiously (pun intended) a Great Britain report on the common characteristics of physicists published in 1993 by a group of scientists assigned a host of adjectives to the profession, but curiosity was not listed as one. However, it is hard to imagine that individuals who gravitate to physics are not driven by their curious nature. I need only look to my father, who obtained his doctoral degree in physics, as a case study on the topic. My father was possessed with constant curiosity, which resulted in use of his spare time to continue his probing quest for knowledge. Often, after working a full day, my father would, for curiosity sake, prepare and solve formulas in his basement office and devour cover to cover every issue of Physics Today. While my father knew attempts to share his curiosity for physics would fall flat on his daughters, he made sure to impart on his girls their need to cultivate an inquiring mind by exploring the world and what it has to offer. True to his nature, family trips were made lengthy by a desire to ensure that we stopped at every historical landmark whether on the path or not to our destination.

My present position has me mingling with scientists like my father on a regular basis at scientific conferences. In my interaction with these individuals I find their personal characteristics to widely differ. That being said what shines through is the healthy curiosity that our conference participants bring with them to CLEO programs and the like.

My next conference of this type has me in San Jose, CA where along with the hundreds of impressive speakers on tap to discuss the latest research in optics and laser science, there will also be lots of attractions to explore in sunny San Jose, CA. I hope attendees take advantage of that curious nature to not only enjoy pioneering research but also the host of available attractions in the area and nearby San Francisco.

Posted: 16 August 2012 by Staff | with 0 comments

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