An ecological study of scientists conducted in the pre-jet plane era concluded that the likeliest place to find a scientist was at O’Hare airport in Chicago. Now, a similar statement can be made about important international airports, such as Heathrow in London and Orly in Paris. Every terminal seems to be populated with scientists on the move.

Why do scientists travel? Hans Selye, the father of the concept of stress, wrote that scientists are not motivated by fortune, but by fame. They work for approval and applause from fellow scientists.

I think that scientists travel to receive the approval and applause that they cannot find at home. Even the most brilliant scientist is just another member of the faculty of his or her own university, or just another one of the many scientists in a research institute. In the performing arts, a resident diva may receive as great an ovation...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?