The Sassy Scientist – The Doctor Is In

The Sassy Scientist – The Doctor Is In

There are no stupid questions. How many times have we heard that from colleagues and in classrooms? Obviously an exceedingly sizeable chunk of our community does not receive stupid questions often enough. Even silly questions have their merits though, and obviously they deserve an answer, at least to avoid them being asked in the future. My very busy mailbox has recently seen a staggering increase in questions related to the very basics of what geodynamics and geophysics actually are, making me wonder about the amount of free time pervading the community. Let’s take Kerubo’s question:

Where does the prefix “geo” in geophysics come from? Geology or geography?

Dear Kerubo,

We live in amazing times. Ones in which we can ask machines our questions. Dr. Google may surprise you. Have you tried asking it the etymology of the word “geophysics”? Here, let me Google that for you. Do the same for “geography” and “geology” and you will have a common answer: “geo-” comes from the Greek word for “Earth”. Wasn’t that the first thing being told in your basic geophysics class? Right after the teacher’s name and their coffee preference (just in case you wanted to work with them in the future)? Such a brilliant way to remind you which class are you sitting in.

I still remember how I was told in very direct terms how I was in the wrong place if I was interested in geology: “geophysicists study those aspects of Earth and other planets that require physics tools that a geologist is not equipped with”. Burn…

Perhaps I misunderstood your question. Are you asking which discipline came first? Is this an attempt at convincing yourself that you are involved in the geoscience discipline? To paraphrase the typical computer person on Stack Exchange, why would you do that? Kids nowadays…Anyway, Dr. Google has an opinion on that too. The modern word “geology” has been around since the 18th century, “geography” since the 15th century and “geophysics” since the 16th century. Is this giving you a much needed ego-boost? Will you now produly puff your chest in the presence of geologists? I advice you to be careful around geographers though.

Now, go back to writing your thesis. You are missing your deadline.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: It is lapalissian that geophysics is the noble discipline. Now you can Google lapalissian too.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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