Physics The king of the sciences. (According to physicists.) Throw a watermelon at a traffic cop, crash two stars into each other; same thing. All describable by equation, thereby predictable. Newton invented it. Except it’s not all the same. Physics is relative; size matters. Real big things going real fast doesn’t behave the way Newton predicted; Einstein had to figure it out. And small stuff plays by its own rules; nuclear particles are like renegade cops. (And I’m just talking about the normal small stuff here, electrons and protons and whatnot; let us not delve into muons and gluons and quarks, which make no damn sense.) Here’s the fun part: quantum physics (the small stuff) and classical physics (the big things) don’t reconcile. Physicists have looked for a Grand Unified Theory since the schism became apparent in the middle of the 20th century, but haven’t found it yet. Maybe they should ask Jared Kushner.
Geology Rockfuckers. An entire substrata of the academy who become aroused by boulders.
Chemistry The most deadly and/or lucrative of the sciences. Yes, yes, I know that you could work to benefit the world and in furtherance of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but if you didn’t have a conscience and were really good at chemistry, you could do some real damage. And, you know, whatever, chemistry is medicine. Literally all medicine is, is chemistry in pill form. But you could also make sarin and meth.
Biology Adenosine triphosphate turns into adenosine diphosphate, photosynthesis, etc.
Volcanology No sympathy at all when these fuckers get eaten by the lava or sucked into a fissure, none. It’s a volcano. Stay away from it. Volcanoes no longer need any study, as I’m about to tell you everything that there is to know about volcanoes: stay away from them. There you are, volcanologists. Stop hiking up Mt. Doom, please.
Oceanography Better than the volcano weirdos, but just. (Although, technically, volcano beats ocean. Hawaii used to be ocean, and then volcanoes said, “Fuck you, this is an archipelago now,” and the ocean was like “What’s an archipelago?” and the volcanoes said, “A chain of islands,” to which the ocean replied, “Well, why didn’t you just say that?’ and the volcanoes were all, “Because the word for ‘a chain of islands’ is an archipelago, you moron,” and then the ocean and the volcanoes had a slap fight. This is the native Hawaiians’ creation myth; it’s quite beautiful.)
(As opposed to the Judeo-Christian creation myth, which comes down to “Everything exists because God said so.” Gimme a giant cosmic chicken giving birth to the sun, or a cow licking the universe out of ice. Old Testament wasn’t even trying.)
Zoology Sometimes people will look at, say, a zebra. “I wonder how that works,” they think. If this sounds like you, then you should be a zoologist.
Botany Sometimes people will look at, say, a lilac. “I wonder how that works,” they think. If this sounds like you, then you should be a botanist.
Psychology Not a science. Get out of here with your personality tests and checklists and take your fMRI machine with you.
Political Science Why are you even at this party, political science? You are not a science. There is nothing scientific about politics, especially lately.
Meteorology Meteorology gets mocked and associated with the goofy weatherman, but it is an underrated science. Hurricanes used to just show up. You would look out your window: boom, tornado. Surprise blizzards that killed hundreds. It’s dangerous to walk outside every once in a while; meteorology gives us all a heads up. Good job, meteorology.
Astronomy Pity the poor astronomer, like Moses on the hill above Israel. All their lives staring at places they can never go. Nowadays there are telescopes so large that they take up entire valleys; mountains hold them up. We have telescopes in space, too, freed from the atmosphere’s distortions and feeding data to supercomputers.
But it started with two guys on a hill.
“Look at the red one, Thog.”
“I can’t see it.”
“Just follow my finger. It’s by the bright one.”
“There’s a lot of bright ones, Og.”
“No light pollution.”
“There are some advantages to living in pre-history.”
“Sure. How’s your family?”
“Look at the star I’m pointing at. It’s different. It moves faster. I don’t think it’s a star.”
“Og, the stars are the crusty speckles that remain from where Ankeenrah the bull’s orgasm gave birth to itself, and then shit out the world.”
“Sure, right, yeah.”
“I mean, it’s a fun story.”
“Excellent tale with a lot of lessons.”
“But, you know, it might not have happened.”
“Dude, did we just invent agnosticism?”
“We totally did.”
HIGH FIVE NOISE
“What the hell did we just do?”
“The thing with the hands?”
“I don’t know. It just seemed right.”
“It was great. We should do it a lot.”
HIGH FIVE NOISE
“I mean, let’s not kill it in the cradle.”
“Sure. Y’know what? I love these flowers we found.”
“Oh, yeah. I was thinking, though: what if we pick them all? Then they’ll be gone. What if there were a way to make the plants do what we wanted them to do? To make more?”
“Are you talking about growing our own?”
“I guess, yeah.”
“Dude, you just invented agriculture.”
“Holy shit, am I on a roll.”
HIGH FIVE NOISE
“Let’s get back to the stars, Thog.”
“Five of them move irregularly. Everything else goes in slow circles, but not these five. I wrote it all down.”
“Og, dude, tell me you did not invent written language.”
“No, no. I just made crude marks in a rock.”
“That’s the first step towards poetry.”
“Representational symbols are a slippery slope, my neanderthal friend–”
“We’re not neanderthals. We ate the neanderthals.”
“–your hash marks will lead inexorably to drawings, then pictographs, ideographs, and finally some dusty asshole in Phoenicia comes up with the alphabet and then it’s game over.”
“Nothing good can come from writing.”
“It’s not writing. It’s marks on a rock.”
“Dude, be cool.”
“I’m cool as shit.”
“Okay, look: if you track the sun’s rise and set, it makes an elongated figure eight that lasts for 365 days. And the moon takes 28 days to go from bright to dark to bright again. The other stars, too, move in a regular fashion. But not those five.”
“So what are they?”
“I have no idea.”
And that was the birth of astronomy.