Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Researchatti

(pronouced Re-ser-at-ti)

It has been sometime now that I had been searching for a word to describe them. But it has eluded me.

Society has its glitterati and the chatterati and the world of books has the literatti.

What about the ivory towers of scientific research? Of course we have them too and I call them "Researchatti".

Now we must standardize this things so here goes. To qualify as a researchatti you must fulfill two or more of the following criteria.

1) Eccentricity : This can be anything from the way that he eats food (with his hands when everyone else uses a spoon and fork), to the way that he runs across the canteen after lunch or the way or that he always wears shorts even in the middle of winter, or carries around a pipe(though it is always unlit!) or whose idea of proving his intelligence is poking fun at the nearest grad student.

2) Sado-machocsim. Not the sexual kind. The very student-professor types. (Still not talking about the sexual kind you perverts!). The kind who two days before your qualifying exam your boss tells you I don’t care whether you pass or fail, or the two hours before the poster deadline boss decides that it can be improved so changes it completely or when after you have worked for 24 hrs straight looks you in the eye and tells you the data is junk.

3) The over enthusiastic kind. The one who likes to think that he/she lives, breathes science all day long. Any tea, dinner, lunch session with them is devoted to this. Even if you are caught in the corridor you are subjected to an onslaught of his ‘scientific ideas’. Gradually 15 min turn to one hour. You tune off but still the researchatti continues blissfully unmindful of his audience’s attention, or lack thereof.

4) Field hepness. What they do/don’t do is irrelevant as their field is the most hep in the business right now. That may be quantum computers, single molecule physics ,MEI’s favorite subject, or even the latest fad - biophysics.

5) The rebel: I like to think that I am a rebel so I have to be kind here. The scientist who goes against popular opinion. The validity of this point of view does not matter as long as it is against the general flow, all the time, everytime and he makes sure that everyone in the institute knows that he was against it.

6) High publishing rate: This is the least important but it helps. The kind around whom legends are woven e.g. It is said of a very eminent researchatti that every time you refresh Mathnet, you see that he has a new paper. Another one has said to have 64 papers in his Ph.D and still going strong or the researchatti in a sister institution who only publishes in journals with impact factor of 10 or above say the whispers.

Of course for some reason, these researchatti are the best at what they do. I wonder why?


oook said...

Interesting post!

BTW, they're all spelt with -ati not -atti

Nitpicking! :D

samudrika said...


Thanks. I must correct that.

where are you these days, man?

oook said...

Work, work... no time to blog personally, I have to run the company blogs and website!

Dominic Ebacher said...

Good luck, your life seems interesting!

Peace and Love!

Dominic Ebacher

samudrika said...


well now that you say so - i suppose it is!