A month or so ago, my wife and I had a day of being tourists in Rotorua. While at the bottom of the Skyline Gondola, which takes people up to the luge tracks, I was accosted by a researcher carrying out surveys on tourism in the Rotorua region. Being a helpful sort of guy, I volunteered to do the on-line questionnaire on a laptop that had been set up just for the purpose. This was straightforward enough, with the only amusement coming from the failure of the system to grasp that any tourist could be spending zero nights in Rotorua, but the most fascinating thing was the conversation that ensued between the researcher and my wife:
Researcher: What does your husband do?
Wife: He’s a lecturer at Waikato University
Researcher: Really? What does he teach?
Quite. This is a typical example of what happens when I tell people about my employment. It kills conversation faster than revealing you are a member of some fruit-loop tree-hugging religious cult. Sometimes I wish I had a normal job, such as plumber, bus driver or astronaut, but physicist it is and I need to make the best of it. Which is part of the reason for this blog, I guess. Physicists are normal people too. After a bit of a pause, the researcher continued the conversation with
"…so why is a physicist doing something normal like luging?"