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Name: Fernando L.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

What are the characteristics of a scientist?

I would say the curiosity is the main trait that drives a scientist. Why does something work? When does an event occur? How can I recreate this event? And so on. A formal education helps, but is not always necessary for success. Look into the histories of Edison and Westinghouse, and you will see that their main education came not from schooling, but from experience and trying to "see why things worked".

Chris Murphy

Scientists come in all shapes and sizes, just like everyone else. What I think you mean is, "What attitude or aptitude do scientists have?" I think the short answer is a scientist is always asking: How? Why? does Nature behave the way it does? This is the distinguishing attitude all scientists must possess -- it is not like people in other fields do not have these qualities, though. The education and training of a scientist is important, but without an inquiring mind, all the education in the world will not produce a good scientist.

You can get a feel for the answer to your question by looking up thumb-nail biographies of scientists on the Internet or in resources from your library. This will give you a picture of the diversity, and the similarities scientists have.

Vince Calder


I do not have an author to quote with a profound answer to your question. I will make a few comments as to what I have personally experienced in those I feel fall into the "good" scientist category:

Someone who:

1. has a passion for learning

2. has an open mind and is not disabled by boundaries of thought

3. can look at situations from many angles

4. is not frustrated in finding one or several plausible solutions regardless of the time involved, and who can use failure to improve future approaches to problem solving

5. uses learned knowledge and theories but is not fully bound by them in facing new situations , i.e. can think outside the box

6. can acknowledge input / feelings from others as one source of information but not be overly swayed by that input

7. has at their core a desire to improve the human condition without adversely affecting the environment or other living things

8. is honest in the collection and analysis of data whether they support his (her) own theories or not

9. communicates clearly their findings with honesty as a primary consideration, leaving funding and politics for others to consider

I am sure there are other good qualities, some indication of aptitude or intelligence as well as working with others without ego which could increase their effectiveness, but lacking these would not make them ineffective as a scientist.

Thanks for using NEWTON!

Ric Rupnik

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