Ciro once read that there are two types of mathematicians/scientists (he thinks it was comparing Einstein to some Jack of all trades polymath who didn't do any new discoveries):
- high flying birds, who know a bit of everything, feel the beauty of each field, but never dig deep in any of them
- gophers, who dig all the way down, on a single subject, until they either get the Nobel Prize, or work on the wrong problem and waste their lives
TODO long after Ciro forgot where he had read this from originally, someone later pointed him to: www.ams.org/notices/200902/rtx090200212p.pdf Birds and Frogs by Freeman Dyson (2009), which is analogous but about Birds and Frogs. So did Ciro's memory play a trick on him, or is there also a variant; of this metaphor with a gopher?
Ciro is without a doubt the bird type. Perhaps the ultimate scientist is the one who can combine both aspects in the right amount?
Ciro gets bored of things very quickly.
Once he understands the general principles, if the thing is not the next big thing, Ciro considers himself satisfied without all the nitty gritty detail, and moves on to the next attempt.
This is also very clear for example after Ciro achieved Linux Kernel Module Cheat: he now had the perfect setup to learn all the Linux kernel shady details but at the same time after all those years he finally felt that "he could do it, so that was enough", and soon moved to other projects.
If Ciro had become a scientist, he would write the best review papers ever, just like in the current reality he writes amazing programming tutorials on Stack Overflow.
Ciro has in his mind an overly large list of subjects that "he feels he should know the basics of", and whenever he finds something in one of those topics that he does not know enough about, he uncontrollably learns it, even if it is not the most urgent thing to be done. Maybe everyone is like that. But Ciro feels that he feels this urge particularly strongly. Correspondingly, if a subject is not in that list, Ciro ignores it without thinking twice.
Ciro believes that high flying birds are the type of people better suited for venture capital investment management: you know a bit of what is hot on several fields to enough depth to decide where to place your bets and how to guide them. But you don't have the patience to actually go deeply into any one of them and deal with each individual shit that comes up.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980) episode 1 mentions as quoted by the Wikipedia page for Eratosthenes:
According to an entry in the Suda (a 10th-century encyclopedia), his critics scorned him, calling him beta (the second letter of the Greek alphabet) because he always came in second in all his endeavours.That's Ciro.