Today I had lunch with on old colleague at CERN, home of the Higgs Boson discovery and the birthplace of the World Wide Web. I worked there for 12 years before deciding to leave science for business at the turn of the millennium.
As an engineer, I marvel in the cutting edge science and technology at CERN, but as an ex-employee, I don’t pay attention to it. Instead I watch the
people scientists. I will stay away from stereotyping although I can spot a particle physicist from a good distance.
The thing that gets me at this Cathedral of Science is the shear amount of brain power! These men and women are the best that our best universities have to offer. Anyone of them can out-calculate ten guys like me. This, incidentally, was very frustrating when I worked here as an engineer. I would be battling with some massive problem when one of these smart guys would walk past, glance at my stuff and tell me what the solution was. All this without actually stopping, just slowing down a little.
When I left science for business, I couldn’t believe people made million dollar decisions without calculating the risk of loss in 7 decimals. I was very innocent in business back then.
In the past few years, I worked with politicians and not only do they not calculate risk to any decimals, they will turn a complete disaster into a political victory. There is no rational thought within miles of those guys.
You can imagine how refreshing it is to have lunch with people that calculate the volume of their glass before drinking from it. People whose jokes start with: “Did you hear about the neutrino that bumped into a W boson…” .
I have learned to live and play with ambiguity and I am totally OK with it but to spend a few hours in a place where one plus one is two and nothing but the two. So in honor of these beings of pure rationality I’m going to prepare my tax return tonight within 7 decimals. I’ll be damned if the french president will get a micro dime too many.