Scientists' other lives

By Grant Jacobs 24/04/2010

Nova‘s series The Secret Life of Scientists exposes the lives of scientists.

There is this stereotype that scientists are well, nerdy.

(Originally sourced from, 22nd Sept. 2009.)
(Originally sourced from, 22nd Sept. 2009.)

Not geeky or dweeby. Nerdy. For the  confused, there is a Venn diagram.

Your ideas on what is what may vary. Most definitions of ‘geeky’ I’ve seen on the WWW are more positive with the ’obsession’ angle, describing it as people that are into new things, curious, pushing the boundaries. I like that.

What are scientists like in their own time?

Movies usually have us as being nerdy there too.

Full-time nerds.


Nova’s The Secret Life of Scientists series pops the lid on scientists’s lives, featuring a cast of scientists in both their work and non-work lives.

The series has recently been nominated for a Webby award. GrrlScientist has a blog post encouraging people to vote for Best Documentary Series in the Weeby’s, featuring a promotional video.

If you search YouTube for ’the secret life of scientists’ you’ll see that they have posted many short ~2 minute ‘10 questions’ interviews of scientists presented on the series there.

There’s virologist and beauty pageant queen, Erika Ebbel:

A leech researcher and foodie (’The Leech man’, Mark Siddall):

NASA space suit ’designer’ and off-shore sailor, Dava Newman:

What do scientists I know do in their own time?

Active things: mountaineering, tramping (hiking), sailing, running, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, riding motorbikes, you name it.

Closer to home: gardening, woodwork, DIY, the usual in other words.

Sedentary: reading, scrabble, games, blogging (!), novelist, non-fiction writing, movies…

Then there’s being parents. Somehow the movies often over look that one.

The Secret Lives of Scientists also has a Facebook page.

Other posts on Code for Life:

Wellcome diversions

iPads for the disabled

Writing a popular science book; links and writers’ warnings

137 years of Popular Science back issues, free

Myriad Genetics patent of BRCA (breast cancer) genes denied

0 Responses to “Scientists' other lives”

  • Oh, if only anything in my life was secret! The problem with being an Expert Witness is that everything I do is hung out for examination, dragged and picked apart – and then I have to go into a public court room so it can be done to my face! I guess I would fit into the nerdy category, but only because I started out as a geologist, which apparently ticks a whole heap of nerd boxes, so my spare time tends to involve outdoors stuff looking at rocks and bouncing around the local area with small children in tow trying to get them interested in it all. “Where do the dragons live?” is the most recent question requiring an answer, as well as “where’s the edge of the universe?” I don’t get a chance to be an off-duty scientist, except when I read Marian Keyes books…..

  • The few geologists I know are decent outdoor sorts. In fact I swear some geologists do their thing as an excuse to be out in the mountains! 🙂

    I like “where’s the edge of the universe”.

    Have you seen Janet Stemwedel’s sprog blogs?

  • I am a botanist, and when I’m not at work, apart from geeky stuff like watching Dr Who and looking for fossils I like live music (punk, country and heavy rock), tramping, and cooking. Oh, and I referee Roller Derby 🙂

  • Oh, and I referee Roller Derby 🙂

    Aren’t botanists supposed to be meek things that nose around in gardens and forests…? 🙂

    It’s a nice illustration of the point of this series, thanks for writing.

    You’ve reminded me that the new series of Dr. Who starts this Sunday in NZ.