Oppenheimer comment on science and the scientist

Via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuMdjjWgHVM , in turn via reddit /r/physics.

(edit: youtube link rot has set in, see transcript here)

“It isn’t the layman that’s ignorant. It’s everybody that’s ignorant. The scientist may know a little patch of something, and if he’s a humane and intelligent and curious guy, he’ll know a few spots from other people’s work. He may even be able to read a book. But his condition is the condition of everyone, which is that almost everything that’s known to man he doesn’t know anything about at all, or knows it only in a very sketchy way. And that’s because it’s gotten a bit complicated.

The problem of a coherent civilization is the problem of living with ignorance and not being frustrated by it, so that you find occasionally a man knows two things, and that intersection may be of a great event in the history of ideas. Occasionally a man may think that something is relevant or exciting which no one before thought concerned him professionally; that may change the history of the world.

And these are the connections, these virtual connections, these casual and occasional connections, which make the only kind of coherence we have. That and affection. That and respect. That and, I suppose, a kind of humanity. ”

At the crisis point again

So I’ve come once again to the question: what do I want to do with my life?

Seriously, I don’t know. I’m considering my current job and my level of satisfaction with it, my other options in my career field, and room for personal growth. I feel like being a sysadmin at this point is somewhat a surrender to the mediocrity that stalks me, threatening to sap away those things I most value about myself.

Maybe spending my life in the land of computers is the wrong choice. Or maybe just in IT. But would making a different choice require me to essentially become a different person, rejecting the me that will be on this path for the me that might be on another? Or is continuing down the path I’m on a rejection of the me that should be on that path but isn’t?

So do I boldly take the next step down this path, or turn around and walk a new one, or do I just let myself slide?