Monday, November 05, 2007

Meeting Einstein

I'm playing hooky from work. And doing some thinking.

In school I was always a good student. Scored high on tests. Got into honor societies. In college I wrote nearly all of my papers the night before they were due and had a great GPA. In 19th Century British Novel class, I never actually finished reading any book we studied yet still made an A in the class. (I know this is a dubious achievement but I'm still kind of proud.)

So the point is I consider myself a smart person. It's funny, then, that I was in for a good dose of humility with my newest freelance assignment. Without going into too much detail, let's just say I would have done well to have minored in physics in college--with a concentration in thermodynamics and nanotechnology. Kind of makes reading Chaucer in the Middle English look like a Baby Einstein video.

After sitting through a great interview with a brilliant scientist in which I understood about 20% of what was said, poring over transcriptions of all my interviews as well as an email from a scientist in Brazil, three or four conversations with my engineer husband and several forays onto the internet's more technical side, I am finally near completion on the article.

And the thing is, this stuff is fascinating once you understand (or at least grasp the general concept of) it. It's just humbling to learn about the amazing things that these minds are doing right across town. The people I interviewed take brilliance to a whole new level. Sometimes when I look a the innovative, exciting ways that these uber-geniuses are shaping the world, it makes my own work and aspirations seem inconsequential in comparison.

But there is a flip side. Some of them are bad spellers. And their promotional materials are badly in need of a copy editor.

The world needs good grammar. Otherwise, how will we understand each other? So here I am, saving the world, one well-placed apostrophe at a time.

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