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Are you a polymath?

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#1 MikeBOKC

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:32 PM

It occurred to me this evening while reading a book by the renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins that while astronomy is my primary hobby, I am and always have been devoted to learning about many branches of science, beginning in my youth with a not-uncommon fascination with dinosaurs. Scanning my library shelves I find books on evolution, paleontology, human origins, geology, zoology, animal nature in general, herpetology, meteorology, oceanography, medicine and health, etc. About all that is lacking is mathematics (my dunce spot) and theoretical physics, although there is plenty of that in various volumes on cosmology.

I suspect most of us in this hobby are similar, but I am curious about how widely we tend to range in the sciences. What are your interests, if interest is to be defined as the collection of knowledge and/or books about a field beyond the cursory level of the layman?

By the way, I am also a devotee of history, politics and literature, but I am confining the question to the hard sciences. Are most of us polymaths, or are many of us more narrowly focused on astronomy?

#2 Rick Woods

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 07:47 PM

I'm not even a unimath. :(

#3 ColoHank

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 08:08 PM

I should think it takes more than a wide range of interests or great breadth of knowledge to qualify someone as a polymath; it requires commensurate attainments, as well.

#4 gavinm

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 08:17 PM

I prefer Renaissance Man myself ;)

#5 llanitedave

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 10:23 AM

I don't really think of all the sciences as separate subjects. It's a broad swath for sure, but nature is one unified whole. I don't see how it's possible to be interested in "just" astronomy. Astronomy touches on chemistry, physics, geology, and (hopefully) even biology. I can't look at a star without thinking of life, and rocks, and ices, and radiation. And I can't look at a rock without thinking of the stars.

It does slow down my mapping.

Now, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, computer science, architecture, etc... Add those in and you've got something going!

But as Hank said, it takes more than interest to qualify -- you have to be really skilled in all those fields as well. I can claim broad interests, but that makes me more of a dilettante than a polymath.

#6 GregLee1

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 11:19 AM

Just my personal understandings:

"polymath": recognized as an expert in 3 or more technical disciplines.
"natural scientist": has made original contributions in several disparate sciences.
"renaissance man": has many skills, including sports and the arts.

I don't know of a good term for one who has wide-ranging interests beyond her/his profession.

#7 Qwickdraw

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 07:01 AM

I'm not even a unimath. :(


Nice !

#8 Mister T

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 07:58 AM

What do they call you when you know it ALL?

wait ....

I should know that!!

DAMN!

#9 PhilCo126

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 08:47 AM

Most College students speak/write/read at least 3 languages and if You're in ICT You'll need to understand another 3 computer/routing/programming languages... Polymath if You ask me :whistle:

#10 llanitedave

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 10:08 AM

I'm as impressed by the polylingual as I am poly-anything else!

#11 FirstSight

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:28 AM

I'm a powlymath, since I did rather pow-ly at math.

#12 scopethis

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 12:32 PM

isn't Polly a parrot?

#13 Rick Woods

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 03:17 PM

Mr. & Mrs. Math's daughter.

#14 seryddwr

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 04:13 PM

I was going to say that I'm a psychopath, but I'm not really. I am a space cadet. (Actually I graduated from the Space Academy long ago. I think I'm a space vice admiral, or something.)

#15 Jay_Bird

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 03:00 PM

does getting a different answer each time you try to solve the problem qualify?






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