Looking over the variety of committees and activities of our society, it strikes me that for such a group of science nerds, we certainly punch above our weight class in social activities. The Doodlebug Golf Tournament is nearly as old as the CSEG itself and clever volunteers are creating new social activities all the time, whether it is a significant event like the T-Wave or a hilarious twist on mentorship with “speed mentoring” at the season wrap-up party of the Geophysics Mentorship program.
So, what makes us, as a technical society, such a socially active group? Aside from our need for human contact after all of this time with our machines, the nature of geophysics necessitates collaboration. There are so many fluctuations in our industry that, at any moment, our primary competitor could be our boss, client, or partner within a month’s time, so we have learned that friendly competitors are much better than bitter rivals.
We work in a field that requires a wide range of skills and talents. Problems without unique solutions haunt us at every turn. The science of geophysics requires us to be creative to find solutions and open to accepting approximations and imperfect solutions. Faced with these conditions, we also need the ability to assess risk and judge the sensitivity of our assumptions and uncertainties in our final product. It doesn’t matter if we are seeking trade-offs in cost/effectiveness in acquisition, producing an interpretable subsurface image, inverting for velocities or rock properties, or mapping the seismic event for the drilling location, we need to develop our creative minds as well as our technical skills. Planning, organizing, and participating in our society’s social activities helps develop our creative brains.
We could – and we do – socialize with a variety of people outside of our industry who share other interests and hobbies. But, we find ourselves getting together with our our fellow professionals because we have additional needs outside of the social. Socializing with geophysicists not only puts us together will like-minded individuals – and by “like minded”, I mean “nerdy” – but we also create opportunities to meet people to share ideas and experience.
On the job, we need to understand the geology and physics of the problems we are trying to solve. In the tortured career path of the typical Canadian geoscientist, most of us have varied experience and expertise that we can leverage, and, when we are stuck trying to figure out a technical problem in a new basin, it is helpful to have people to call. The call may not result in an easy answer, but a brainstorming chat or sympathetic ear should at least put the problem into perspective.
In addition to the mental-health benefits, the opportunities to connect with fellow scientists is good for business and for the science.