Teddy’s words are as inspiring today as they were a century ago, but I look at them in a different way. I look at them as a call to action for all those armchair scientists out there, reading about science, attending lectures, and maybe evening dreaming about making a discovery one day. Why not actually climb into the arena? Why not decide to do some real science? Get your face marred with dust.
As I’ve conveyed over and over again here on the SLB, you have many paths at your disposal to make a real contribution (yes, small contributions are worthwhile too). It could be something simple like participating in Galaxy Zoo to classify galaxies, or hunt for supernovae. You could turn to amateur astronomy and locate comets, celestial events (recall the amateur who first noticed the stupendous Jupiter impact last year), or even discover a new exoplanet. At the very least you could run a BOINC screen saver and play a role in a global science computation project. You have a lot of options to “feel the triumph of high achievement.” Do real science now!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and short coming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never by with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”