I was listening to the BBC this morning and caught the second half of this interview with Lawrence Krauss who has become rather well known both for his ideas about dark energy, and for his incredible ways of communicating the "life scientific" to an audience through books, twitter, and even movies.
The way he speaks about his work provides a great insight into the ways of scientific working--despite the image given by lots of chem/bio/physics science classes, being a scientist is more than being able to memorize a collection of previously discovered "truths." Being a scientist is about being creative enough to imagine possible explanations and to be resilient as you test them out, because most good ideas don't match up with nature. Failure is a necessary part of being a good scientist!
A lot of it is intuition and a good sense for what the important questions are, but at some level it's just good ideas combined with luck and those two things have to happen together. And hopefully if you come up with enough good ideas, some of them are lucky enough to be right. Lawrence Krauss
My favorite part was when I heard an overlap between his metaphor for science and one we use in WonderWorld Science workshops: scientists are like detectives, so we aim to be "Sherlock Scientists" who observe closely, make guesses, test them out, make new guesses, and hope to solve the mystery--be it of a moment or of some larger aspect of life. He quotes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's words as Sherlock how he goes about solving a mystery:
Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. Sherlock Holmes
That’s what science is about… figuring things out by eliminating the impossible. Imagine what a world this would be if were were all seeking to eliminate the impossible!
well worth the 28minutes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07cvhrj