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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taxi Driver, Associate Professor

In a bizarre turn of affairs, Stanford-trained former Principal Investigator and Adjunct Associate Professor Cai Mingjie is now a taxi driver.

He writes the blog "A Singapore Taxi Driver's Diary".

It's a great read, please check it out.

Here's an exerpt:

"On my way home, I thought about what “man goes higher” means. In most people’s dictionary, it means higher pay, higher education, higher social status, etc. A higher position on the social food chain. That’s the norm of the society. From a professor to a taxi driver could only be seen by most people as a classical example of the exact opposite of “man goes higher”. But, I look at it differently. Yes, the bigfoots sitting high on the food chain can force me into a jobless situation. What it has done to me, however, is only to push me to a “new high”, a new boundary where their powers to set the rules, to twist the rules, to do whatever at will, do not apply, where I don’t have to survive by playing their games.

This is all that matters to me. Low or high, I can take it either way. In fact, I feel happier now as a taxi driver than before in my last two years as a professor, when I often had to feel sorry for myself for having to work in that environment."

**********

Still think that research is about the love of science (or pouring liquids from one tube into another)?

That's not the whole story, my friends.

*Update (19 Aug 2009)

Dr. Cai has been interviewed by Amresh Gunasingham from the Straits Times.

Online edition: PhD holder now a cabby

Print edition (scanned): cabby PhD holder now a taxi driver

2 Comments:

S.A. said...

Ok, I'm convinced. I wonder if this situation is unique to Singapore? Or is it the same everywhere, just more acutely so over here?

Lim Leng Hiong said...

From my observations, some aspects of the situation is unique to Singapore but not limited to scientific research, whereas other aspects are just part and parcel of the research process.

The specifics differ from case to case.