Sure! There are two kinds of answers to this sort of question. The first kind of answer is a conceptual answer, and one I suspect you’ve heard many times: seek out what interests you and voraciously learn about it from multiple sources (books, people, the internet). A lot of times that kind of advice is vague and, I suspect, doesn’t translate into concrete actions that you might take. This brings me to the second kind of answer, which is the more practical one. So, literally, what can you do? Without knowing what your specific interests are, here’s a list of awesome stuff:
1. Cosmos by Carl Sagan. It’s a book-turned-TV series that’s on the antiquated side, but I defy anyone to find another human who spoke as eloquently and clearly about science as Carl Sagan. Watch it. Read all his books. His interests were wide ranging and he’s ridic poetic.
2. Find a book about something awesome that interests you and then read related material. Here are a few good ones to get you started. Mathematics: Chaos by James Gleick. Astrophysics: Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne. Cosmology/string theory: The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. Music and the brain: Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. Medicine: The Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Biology: Genome by Matt Ridley.
3. Depending on your interests, you might find it easier to get into a biography of someone who interests you. Here are some more suggestions: Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox; Alan Turing: Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson. Paul Dirac: The Strangest Man by Graham Farmelo.
I think it’s important to realize that, generally speaking, school provides you with a toolkit of techniques you can use to analyze the world, but doesn’t always tell you about the cool stuff that’s out there. Go forth and seek out awesomeness! Some people find learning interesting facts about the world unspeakably cool (for example, some frogs hibernate in the summer under dirt in a process called estivation). Other people don’t care about memorizing facts but they care about the history and ethos of science, while still others would like to understand their origins, while others are seeking the meaning of life and absolute truth. Some people want to cure diseases, some people want to build things, some people are just curious people. My point is: science is deep and broad and real and relevant and you can find something there that interests you.
Finally, I would add: don’t forget that just knowing things themselves is never enough. The real story of science is in how we came to know what we know, and how sure are we that’s we’re right?
Must reblog for books. Must. Books.