Today I am kicking off my series on NERD HEROES. Us nerds have many heroes, hundreds of them, we just don’t really talk about them enough. You don’t have to be cool to be awesome and many of our nerd heroes will never ever be described as cool.
My first Hero isn’t some eminent scientist, he’s not a world leader in anything, he isn’t rich or famous. He is ordinary. But one day Ryan MacDonald could possibly be a household name like Neil Armstrong or Yuri Gagarin!
Ryan is An Astrophysics PhD student at Cambridge in the UK who is researching exoplanets. He is nerdy, has the classic jam-jar glasses, seems a little awkward from his videos, and has a youtube channel with complex videos about orbital dynamics on it and one day ….… he might just live on Mars.
Ryan is one of the “Mars 100”, the 100 final candidates picked by Mars One, a Dutch company that is planning a one-way Mars mission to establish a colony on the Red Planet. Yes, one-way. initially everyone thought they were bonkers but as time rolls on and they chip away slowly at this enormous goal some (me included) are beginning to believe that they might just do it, it’s just a matter of a few billion dollars and a final selection process between Ryan and Mars. Regardless of whether Mars One gets to Mars or even launches a probe the whole thing is fascinating, made even more exciting by Elon Musk’s recent announcement of how SpaceX intend to get to Mars in the next few decades.
Ryan’s Martian Colonist YouTube channel is great fun and his are the most comprehensive updates on the Mars One project I can find, I have been following him for a while. I honestly look forwards to hearing about the mission’s progress and also to hear his often strange asides about space exploration and the science of astrophysics.
Regardless of whether Mars One will actually happen Ryan is a nerd hero. Just watch some of his videos and you’ll see his infectious enthusiasm for the Mars One project and space exploration in general and will come to appreciate his true SUPER-NERD status. Teachers – he gives a lot of talks and video links in to classrooms all over the world about his planned trip to Mars.
For those of you who want to hear from the man himself here are links to Ryan’s Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Ryan MacDonald I salute you!
A true Nerd Hero!
<A barely audible creaking of laptop hinges, a mechanical rattling as cobwebs are wiped form the keyboard of the blogging computer, a small fluttering of moths arise disturbed form their gloomy forgotten hiding place, the feeble dusty glow from the screen illuminates an old familiar pair of glasses once again. Ancient long lost passwords are repeatedly failed and eventually reset and re-verified and …. oh for God’s sake just let me in …. aaaaaaaah…. yes. I’m in! It’s Aliiiiive! The Blog is Aliiiiive!>
Now, let’s begin … again…….
Society bombards us with sporting heroes and music stars. Some celebrities are celebrities for … well… being celebrities, what exactly is it that the Kardashians do?
It’s time we fought back. We need to spread the word about the massive multitude of nerd heroes out in the world. Not hipster-nerds, “I’m cool because I like nerds”, Big Bang Theory celeb nerds. We need to talk about real heroes; people who are nerdy, unashamedly so, and do cool things, very cool things. As I have discussed before, we nerds are taking over the earth. Let’s celebrate it.
As a starting point for my new world order I plan a little series of posts on Nerd Heroes. People who may not actually be that famous that I have stumbled across but who are doing very cool things.
The first one is underway and will be up soon. If you think of anyone to add, or fancy writing one yourself – send me a line.
I have seen so many of these and they all say nothing so they must be easy to write. Hopefully these tips will inspire and assist you in being a better parent.
1. It is best not to eat your children. It is neither ecologically sound (the carbon footprint of a child is considerably larger than that of a cow) or very sanitary (depending on how clean your house is). Few butchers will assist you in jointing the meat so there will inevitably be excess waste without the help of a professional.
2. Moving on from point 1. Children and kitchen knives should be mutually exclusive. The contamination risk posed to your expensive kitchen implements by an unwashed toddler is high. Bone (albeit supple bendy bone) blunts knives horribly.
3. Keep strong alcohol away from young children. They are badly behaved enough when sober.
4. Keep your illegally owned handguns hidden from view. The kids shooting someone is bound to give away the fact that you own one and the penalties for this can be quite high.
5. Let children out of the house into the sunshine every so often. Vitamin D supplements can be expensive and calculating paediatric doses is a right pain.
6. Don’t let your children play video games all day, if they are on the X-Box incessantly when will you get a chance to complete all 16 hours of Modern Warfare Black Ops 6?
7. Leads are for dogs and choke chains are a definite no-no, too swift a tug is likely to result in a fall, thereby drastically and unacceptably lengthening your walking time. Reins or wrist straps are more socially acceptable and less destabilising alternatives.
8. Name your children. Without doing so differentiating between them can be challenging, you also have nothing to shout across the room when they are carjacking another kid’s Cozy Coupe in playgroup.
9. Speak to your children. If they don’t learn a language how are you going to ask them to fetch the remote or answer the phone for you?
10. Finally, the most obvious one, probably not in keeping with some of the previous subtler, debatable points above. This one is so obvious I’m not sure why I’m adding it – VACCINATE YOUR CHILDREN, it stops them and others getting horrible preventable diseases. The anti-vaxers can deny they work and claim harm all they like, they can also deny the existence of cheese for all I care and that will be total bollocks too.
So, Will “Wesley-Crusher” Wheaton says nerds are awesome. They are awesome because they love TV or something else and get obsessed? That’s awesome? Really? No!
Nerds are awesome, but not necessarily for the reasons he gives. There is nothing cool about being engrossed in something obscure for hours on end, often without any useful outcome. Being able to name every Star Trek Voyager character in order of appearance is impressive but useless. NOT awesome.
We will always be the inept kids in the playground who can’t kick a soccer ball straight but can count to ten in Swahili. The kid that sits on the school bus reading a book and not blowing spitwads at the girls. We will be the ones that are picked last at sports, the ones that come last in races, the ones the popular kids despise and the rest of the kids try and ignore.
What these popular cool kids don’t understand is that us nerdy-geeky-losers with spots, glasses and unfashionable hair will grow up and will also be the ones that treat their cancer, that make their cars safer, plan their towns, the ones that keep their power stations and water running and possibly even the ones that design the computer they use at their till in Mc Donalds. They will need us. They will need us far more than we need them.
Being a nerd IS awesome. But not because I have an unhealthy interest in Firefly or that I get engrossed in making idiotically complex cups of tea. It’s awesome because through being nerdy I am now treating peoples diseases and changing lives. As a doctor I am nothing special, but being a doctor IS special. I will never need the validation of others to tell me I am worthwhile. I don’t give two hoots about how “fashionable” my hair is or how “on trend” my shoes are. My hair is the same mess it was when I was 15. My shoes are the same boring black ones they were in school. Nobody cares. The cool kids are still trying to be cool, now competing with the cooler younger people emerging behind them. Their “Glory Days” of being the popular kid are gone, it’s downhill from here Mr/Ms Former Sports Captain, your sun is setting. The nerds have plodded on and have transcended the nonsense.
Nerds will always overcome, we will always be there and it’s no longer a case of us jokingly saying “Nerds will inherit the earth”, WE HAVE ALREADY GOT IT!
Stupid baby cutesy talk used to make me hurl. Hearing Mums ask their mewling offspring “Has babywaby gottta soggy bumbum?” in the street use to have me reaching fot the nearest fire axe. “I will never talk to my children like that!” the young Nerd thought (just “Nerd” at the time and not Nerd Dad as children were merely hypothetical, in fact The Wife was not only hypothetical but improbable given hygiene and Games Worksop obsession issues).
Hmmmm. What a difference a sprog makes. The other day we realised that our baby babble had taken hold. Bigtime. There is something about chatting away and not expecting any response that seems to absolve you of having to make any sense. These nonsense phrases and babblings, much like the silly songs I previously mentioned, appear without warning. He has now started to respond, mainly in squeals and squeaks.
I started calling our little guy “Monkey Boy” partly because of his excess of hair but mainly because it mildy annoyed The Wife. The Wife took to calling him Little Dude; I suppose because …well… he’s little … and a dude? Little Dude became Dudlelet, then Doodle, Monkey Boy became Monkey ….. and “Monkey Doodle” was coined.
Unsurprisingly all cultures babble at their babies and your babble is dictated by your language and baby noises are dependant on the type and frequency of your babbling. Apparently we all start off the same an then babble becomes language specific so eventually Chinese learning babies babble is totally different to English learning babies. Babbling apparently also teaches babies how conversation works, the structure of speech and how to take turns.
So, as well as making all those around us puke with our cutesy baby talk we are unconsciously teaching them the sounds, structure and timbre of our language. In summary Baba baba boo boo who’ my wuvvwy wuvvwy wickle Monkey Doodle den?
Following my recent post mentioning small boys liking ross things and bugs I had a fantastic small boy moment today thanks to The Wife. She noticed a Tree Weta just outside the front door – off I ran for the camera.
Wetas are great big gnarly bugs that live here in New Zealand. They are nocturnal and live in burrows in the ground or in trees (depending on species) emerging to hunt invertebrates at night. This specimen’s body was about 8 cm long and wonderfully gnarly!
Gnarly Great Big Tree Weta
(Gnarlius Buggus Maximus Awesomeus)
They aren’t particularly dangerous unless you are an invertebrate. Their jaws are pretty hefty and they can give you a nasty nip. This species of Weta is pretty puny by the way, the Giant Weta is even bigger (as the name might suggest). Incidentally Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop in Wellington is named after these fantastic beasties.
So why am I sharing this? What has it to do with being a Dad or bringing up a nerd? NOTHING. I just love big gnarly bugs and this one lives on my porch!! How awesome is that?
As is plainly obvious I am a nerd. Nerds LOVE stats. We really do. I have watched whole cricket matches via cricinfo stats. [For American readers cricket is a bit like baseball in that you smack a leather ball with a big stick, it differs from baseball in that it isn’t crap.] I spend ages messing around looking graphs and pretty tables on sports websites.
I also love the stats page on WordPress. You find such strange things out. Someone from Mongolia once came to this site via yahoo.co.uk. I was surprised a Mongolian waned to read my nonsense but even more surprised that Yahoo still existed! Do you remember Yahoo? I was also very pleased to find that Superman is one of my readers, it is the only explanation of my stats. He was the only visitor to my site one day, in the space of a few hours my drivel was read in Canada, the USA, New Zealand (he should have dropped by to say hello!) and the UK but I only had one visitor. I was very pleased to have finally “broken the game”. I love doing that.
I am certain that I am not the only one who, when they get a computer game, try and break it. My routine is load the game, break the game, play the game. By “breaking the game” I mean trying to walk somewhere the game blatantly won’t let me, putting in some cheat then walking into a fire just to see how quickly and how amusingly the whole thing crashes, and partly to see what fun noises my antiquated PC will make. I am like a moth to a light, plunging myself into glitches to see what happens, I learnt my “trade” primarily in the glitch ridden world of Doom (when I should have been revising for my physics A-Level). Sadly the current crop of games aren’t quite so glitch ridden but therein lies the challenge. The other challenge is actually getting time to play games with The Boy around. As mentioned in a previous post I also like making speakers feedback, videoing the output of my video to get those strange infinitely repeating patterns and skyping my computer with my phone then shouting to see what happens. (NOTE TO SELF – remember to add “loser” to the tags).
I think it’s the same instinct that drives small boys to poke gross and weird things like dead birds and poo with sticks. I hope The Boy grows up to be the curious but not stupid one (i.e. the one that pokes gross stuff with a stick rather than picking it up or tasting it).