Who am I?

meI am. Which is incredible enough on its own. It is fascinating that what is necessary to be a surviving human being is very little compared to what is necessary to understand the complexity of the Universe in which we must survive. From the human perspective, one’s own existence has to be a source of awe and wonder.

I am a scientist. I delight in the quest for knowledge and understanding. The evanescent feeling of understanding the vastness of space, the tremendous energy of the stars, the complexity of life or the counter-intuitive nature of quantum mechanics has become a major addiction for me.

I am a musician. I listen to music all the time, and my restless mind is constantly playing some in the background. Sometimes, I bring it to the foreground and I notice something that I never heard before. Completing the feedback loop by realizing this new music is another major addiction. In time, I end up influencing myself which I hope may bring me to the shores of originality.

I am a skeptic. I am obsessed with verification. Even the most banal claims about daily life can throw me into an investigation. I have a nonsense radar that I keep honing. I see it as an affront to our human intellect to leave things unquestioned, unverified or unjustified.

I am a naturalist. I don’t need the supernatural. It does not bring me any comfort. It has no emotional appeal anymore. I felt attracted to it in my teenage years, but it turned out to be a very poorly satisfying way of seeing the world for a genuinely curious person like me. The supernatural is not an explanation for anything. It is precisely a lack of an explanation.

Some people think that, like in performance arts, what makes the world exciting are unresolved mysteries. That sends me back to one of my favorite quotations ever from the superb TV show House M.D.:

If the wonder is gone when the truth is known, there never was any wonder.

What these people don’t get is that reality is an endless source of mysteries. We scientists love to solve mysteries simply because it will reveal another layer of deeper, more baffling mysteries.

On a more biographical note, my full name is Michel Trottier-McDonald. I am currently doing a Ph. D. at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. I am working with the ATLAS collaboration, studying collisions created by the Large Hadron Collider. I am also currently working on advancing a musical project called Motionthink, which should produce its debut album when I have the opportunity to dedicate more time to it.

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