Being a Physicist, I will now look at the Chemist through the lens of Physics, I hope to be objective, but I am aware of the limits of my objectivity and the limits of my method.
The Physicist observes the following about the Chemist: (I will use the male pronoun for simplicity):
- The Chemist lives in a world of reactions. Reagents come together and conditions are manipulated to produce a variety of outcomes. The Chemist sees himself as a facilitator of outcomes. He has confidence in his model which describes the reactions because he can be fairly confident as to the outcomes that will be produced.
- The Chemistry teacher is often a frustrated children's entertainer. He loves the wide eyed enthusiasm and curiosity of his unsuspecting audience as various interesting effects are produced. He loves flirting with danger, making things look more dangerous than they really are to further enhance the entertainment value of what he is doing. And he remains confident in his model because it works.
- However he manipulates everything, his model is all about what and how things can be manipulated. He constructs. His model involves building blocks that fit together following known patterns. They are neat. There is elegance. It is Science. But it is not the whole story.
The thing is, I am never sure the Chemist is seeking deep understanding. The Chemist sees himself as a facilitator; his models and methods allow a whole field of endeavour to open up. He simply facilitates and he believes his little atoms and molecules dance to his personal understanding though they are not under his control. The more chaotic it looks, the better. The outcome is assured (he thinks). It isn't about the sharp knives of logic and law, it is about process. Process is Queen.
The Physicist is far more likely to say that process is subservient to law. Law is not as rigid as others may think it is. Law is about degrees of freedom, not about total control. The Physicist finds beauty in the law; law reveals beauty and truth. Models and methods will be cheerfully ditched if a greater understanding of the law is revealed.
As I said, Chemist and Physicist, two very different animals. Let each be. And heaven help us if we ever have a Supreme Pontiff who had once been a Physics teacher.