Ever think of a career that challenges your perceptions and intellect? Some people have the good fortune to go to a job each day that requires them to solve complex problems and come up with novel solutions. Others allow them to get close access to some of the newest technology on the planet. What are the five coolest science careers that anyone can pursue?
When a major volcano blows its top, a lot of stuff happens. Not only does it release more silicon dioxide than the largest coal plant in the world, but it also may pose a threat to life a limb of those who live in the near vicinity of lava flow, rock slides, or wildfires. The geologists who understand these ticking time bombs get to climb up and down the sides of active volcanoes and get a glimpse into the beating heart of mother Earth. Most volcanologists study the chemical composition of lava within a volcano, as well as the pressure that the volcano exerts on the eruption spot, so that they can determine how the blast will affect people as well as the environment. Each time a volcano erupts, they rush to find out clues about the molten rock in the planet’s core — only a few miles below our feet. Learn more about this job here.
A lot more goes into making wine than squeezing grapes and waiting for the juice to ferment. The composition of wine is a finely-tuned science with each vinyard employing chemists who understand how the individual sugar molecules of the juice turn into alcohol with the help of enzymes in the yeast. These chemists not only monitor the acidity and water concentration of wine, but help the planters to find the best soil spots that will yield a good harvest. Ironically, the same soil chemistry that helps to grow good wine also makes some regions prone to earthquakes — meaning that wine chemists need to choose spots carefully or else there won’t be any grapes left.
In order to lift a million-pound 747 jet off of the ground it’s necessary to go fast enough that the air beneath the wing moves faster and puts pressure on the air above it. This creates lift, which is what gets a plane off of the ground, but getting a plane off the ground is significantly easier said than done. It’s a job that aeronautical engineers deal with each day: how to make a plane faster, stronger, bigger, or more efficient using the laws of physics and an engine that consumes 60,000 kilograms of fuel by flying from New York to London. Aeronautical engineers may work on all types of aircraft, ranging from military jets that are faster than sound (but invisible to radar) to crop dusters that dive down to within as little as twenty feet off the ground to deliver fertilizer or pesticide.
How many times have you had to go to the hospital for surgery — perhaps to take tonsils out, to repair a broken bone, or from a bad sickness. What holds true for humans also holds true for animals: medicine is necessary to live a healthy life. Animals that live in zoos need regular healthcare and checkups as well, which are administered by veterinary surgeons who work at a zoo’s medical facility on animals ranging in size from massive elephants to tiny turtles. These experts need to know the anatomy of many different animals, so that they can remove an alligator’s tooth or help deliver a baby panda.
Perhaps the coolest science career of all, and one that children have grown up dreaming about for generations, an astronaut gets to experience what only a fraction of humanity has: the effects of living in space. It’s a selective career, however: NASA receives some 3000 applications for each two-year opening, and of those 3000 only ten will go on to jet into the stars in a space shuttle. Those that do usually have a background as a pilot, usually in the military, but others may be scientists of other sorts studying everything from the effects of plant growth in weightlessness to engineers repairing space telescopes and satellites.