Eleven and Out : Interview with Jeremy M. Long About Science

May 2012
On a recent afternoon, I sat down with Jeremy M. Long, my younger brother by 16 years, to talk about Science.

When I say I 'sat down,' I mean that we spoke via cellular telephone. I talked with him about his theories on Science, and whether he believes in it or not, and various such topics. Here is a synopsis of our conversation. 

Note: in places, I describe what he is doing physically. Obviously, since this was a conversation via cellular telephone, I don't know for sure, but I am creatively extrapolating his physical reactions to some of my questions based on interpretation of the tone and cadence of his voice.


In what ways would you say that Science has impacted your life?

I'm glad that I have grown up in this day and age. For instance: Josh & Caleb, my roommates, have ear infections right now, and they have antibiotics to help cure them. A few hundred years ago, you'd probably just wait for it to turn into something worse, and you might die. I am thankful for all the research in medicine and scence that has been created and learned in the past 100 years. Cancer research, AIDS research, you know.

What would you say is better: Science or Medicine?

Is Medicine 'Science?"

I'm not the Scientist.

It seems like it takes a Scientist to create Medicine. 

So, you're implying that Medicine is inferior to Science?

Are they mutually exclusive?

No. Do you need to know Medicine in order to be a Scientist?

Don't you need to know Science before you can learn Medicine?


This is confusing.


He hops off the futon and starts pacing by the refrigerator.

May 2012
What do you think is better: Physics or Biology, or something else, and why?

Biology is the study of life, correct? Physics is…how things work? 

He pauses, hesitantly, and sits down heavily on the southwest corner of the brown fake leather ottoman by the window.

Am I correct?

I'm asking questions. Please don't ask me any.

I sense him bristling, but he says nothing.

I never took Physics, but I did take Biology, so I suppose I might be more interested in Physics, because it seems like there's a lot of fun experiments you can do with it. That's a terrible answer.


There's a lot of experimenting you can do do with Biology. So I suppose I'm a bit apathetic on the matter. I don't have enough knowledge about either. That's probably the worst answer I've ever given to anything.


May 2012
Who do you consider the greatest Scientist ever, and why?


I can hear him smiling with smug satisfaction.


He knows God.

Who would you consider the second greatest Scientist ever, and why?

I smile with smug satisfaction.

Is Thomas Edison considered a scientist?

You tell me.

Seems like it would take somebody who knew about Science to create the light bulb. And I like light bulbs. So I'm going to say Thomas Edison.


I check over my notes, and check Facebook quickly before returning to giving him full attention. A blackbird flutters against the snowy window; a rainbow glints on the Portland horizon.

February 2008, with Josh & Caleb Pryer
What qualities make a good Scientist?

Intelligence. Open-mind, I would think. Focus. I feel like I'm giving awful answers.


May 2012
Do you think of yourself as more of a Scientist, or more of a Musician?

I'm gonna have to go with Musician.


Because I know something about music.

Well, you use Science more than Music.

Do I?

You use Physics to walk.

Am I aware of it though?

Good point.

Are you a Scientist if you use Science?

Good question. But don't ask me questions. I ask the questions.

Beat. I sip coffee. I can hear him drinking nothing, because I would hear him if he were; a deer sloughs through the forest off to my right. I can hear the Los Angeles traffic in the background of his phone, and possibly sirens and a SWAT team a block over.

Do you think it would be confusing to people if you played music while you were wearing a lab coat?

No. It wouldn't be too far outside my character.

May 2012
Do you ever use Science in your music?

He thinks deeply, heavily. A squirrel skitters against the sliding glass door. I wave. I hear Jeremy perspiring.

Yes…I'm writing a song called "Fight or Flight," that I've been studying about. It interests me, the idea of stories where mothers are able to do impossible things when their babies are trapped, or something, and lifting a car off the ground to save their child. It interests me…like real superheroes.

When somebody is lifting a car by themself, is that science?

It would be Physics, right?

Correct. But Fight or Flight seems more about Psychology than Science.

Is it?

You tell me.

It's the fundamental psychological response to modern-day stressful situations. The body's primitive automatic inborn response that gets the body to fight or flee in response to perceived threat of harm.

I am impressed, but try to keep it out of my voice.

Okay…so is that science? It sounds like fake science.

Scientific things happen to your body, like your heart rate increasing, your pupils dilating…that doesn't sound fake to me.

Good point. I guess it's Science.

If you had to eliminate an entire field of Science, which one would you choose? In other words, what is the worst Science field?

Can you name some?


Can you give me options?


Why not?

Stop asking me questions.


I'm banning you from this question. You're being indecisive.

Do you think Science really impacts our lives today?

Yes. In ways that I cannot explain.

His instinct is uncanny; a bobcat slinks through the backyard, hunting for dead blackberries. Jeremy swallows, I can feel his confidence picking up. I can be intimidating.

Do you have any friends who are Scientists, and if no, why not? 

I think I have friends who are better Scientists than I am.

Do you think you should have to go to college to become a Scientist?


Where does Bad Science come from then?

What is Bad Science?

Is there such a thing as Bad Science?

You mean Science-Gone-Bad? Gone a-wry?

Yeah. What would be an example of that?

Putting different potions together. Like chemicals. Creating methampetamine would be Bad Science. Maybe exploding your methampetamine trailer. That would be Bad Science.

Have you been watching Breaking Bad?

Yeah. He's a scientist. A bad scientist. He uses science in a bad way.

What about people who use meth as a way to help them focus, which is important for a scientist. What if they're studying science?

And they're using meth to help them focus? Do people do that? Seems like more of a cocaine thing.

I know lots of people who do that.


Don't ask me questions. Okay. Your methampetamine example was probably your best answer yet.

He stands up and walks to the bathroom mirror. Begins flossing, and tries sneaking in a question:

What's the difference between an amateur scientist and a professional scientist?

Probably similar to the difference between an amateur musician and a professional musician.

So…a scientist that makes money, versus a scientist who is not making money.

I guess. But I don't know why you'd do the science without the money.

You need to survive. Simple science, really.

January 2010
What would you like to invent? I already have dibs on Time Machine.

I would like to invent a new instrument.

What is stopping you?


That is meta.

Would you say that it is intelligence or focus that is stopping you?


May 2012
What do you think is better: Science or Love?

Love, I think. Love is the greatest of all.

Okay. So you think Science is not that important.

I did not say that. You are twisting my words.

Are they connected?

Without love, science is meaningless.

Wow. That is amazing.

What would you be doing anything for, without Love? I think everything should be centered around understanding Love a little more each day, even when creating Science. 

Is it more about Creating Science, or Discovering Science?

I suppose Discovering. I suppose it already exists...kind of like coming up with a melody. It exists before I...make it. Am I discovering or creating? Do we really create anything, or just discover what's already there?

Do you believe in parallel universes? I do.

Like…if I made different decisions, or what? Like me going down a different road in another world?


I think about what it would be like, what my universe would be like. But I don't believe that other universes actually exist because of the decisions I make here. So my parallel universe actually doesn't exist physically. 

But maybe scientifically?

Isn't physics a part of science?

Do physics and physical have anything to do with each other?

I think so.

Me too. You should watch more Fringe. Then you'll believe. It's sort of a Science show.

I will.

And also, Fringe is about Love. Science and Love. I believe in both. Do you?


Thanks Jeremy. Bye.

A non-hibernating garter snake races by window. I throw a remote. Click.

July 2010

We Do Not Eat Hippopotamuses, Camels, or Dinosaurs, Mostly Because We Are Vegetarian (Interview with a 2-year old about Food and Dinosaurs)

Dinner Was Palatable, Dear (Interview with my wife about her Cooking)

Magdelana (Interview with a Five-year old about Life in general)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love to hear from you. Thanks for your comments!