Dammit, Jim, I *am* a doctor!

By Phil Plait | April 23, 2011 7:01 am

With the new series of Doctor Who premiering today, why not poke a little fun?

It took me a second to recognize the voice as David Hyde Pierce, and the words are from "Treasure Planet", which I thought was actually quite an enjoyable movie.

But as an astronomer myself, I have to question the word "useless". Why, we have many uses! We help keep the coffee and polyester industries afloat, for one. And without us, people with no actual sense of humor wouldn’t be able to say "So, what’s your sign?" when they meet us, which, let me tell you, is awesomely hilarious every single time we hear it.

Anyway, if you’re expecting more out of me today, you don’t know me very well because I’ll be camped out in front of the TV waiting for the new series to premier.

Trust me. I am a doctor.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Geekery, Humor, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (34)

  1. yeah, but not that kind of doctor.
    The trustworthy I mean.

  2. Joe

    Treasure Planet: perhaps the most underrated Disney film of all time. One of my favorites though.

  3. Patricia

    I’ve always said my sign is “Ignatz the Terrible”. (stolen from Dennis the Menace)

  4. Georg

    “We help keep the coffee and polyester industries afloat,”

    Hmm, I understand coffee, but polyester?


  5. When cheerfully chirpy people ask me what my “sign” is, I’m tempted to reply “plus or minus.” (Ha, ha! Math teacher joke!) Usually, though, I just tell them what they want to know but append, “Yeah, people born under my sign don’t take astrology seriously.” Some people pause a moment and then chuckle. Others appear to remain stuck in “pause” and I can effect my escape. I trust they eventually come out of it or someone reboots them.

  6. amphiox

    Hmm, I understand coffee, but polyester?

    Coffee spills. (Think sleep deprivation).


    I never wipe up (my many) coffee spills with polyester, even if I’m groggy enough to need the coffee.

  8. Bad Wolf

    While I am eagerly awaiting the new series of Doctor Who, it comes somewhat bittersweet, since the Grande Dame herself, Elisabeth Sladen, better known as Sarah Jane Smith passed away last week, from cancer.

    For those few who don’t know about her, she was – until Rose – the most popular companion ever, and she gave the Doctor something more than a woman who only got into trouble and screamed a lot. She paved the way for the tougher female companions, like Ace, Peri, Rose, Martha and Donna.

    A huge loss to the “Whoniverse”, she will be sorely missed in the TARDIS.

  9. Keith Bowden

    I tend to answer “delivery room”. :)

    I’ve been watchin a lot of Tom Baker DOCTOR WHOs this week, in memory of Elisabeth Sladen. I look forward to the release of Matt Smith’s second season set this fall.

  10. Nic

    I’ll check out the new episode shortly.
    Flattened by the new of Lis Sladen’s death, more than I can believe. Sarah Jane was the best companion ever (I’m 44 and a Brit so I remember the first time round). I found many companions, (not all), rather two dimensional. Lis Sladen was never that, only ever exceptional. I just caught the CBBC (Childrens BBC channel) tribute to Lis Sladen on iPlayer, most moving. Sorry, no idea if that is is accessible outside the UK.

    And sorry Phil if I’m off topic.

  11. PayasYouStargaze

    I’m happy to say the first episode was a cracker. I won’t be giving anything away though.

  12. HoverDonkey

    Oh, yes – the first episode is a real timey-wimey brainteaser of a tale.

    Cannot wait until next week now my appetite is truly whetted!

  13. KC

    *Shakes fist* at Cablevision which does not carry BBC America!!

    @Nic: you are spot on.

  14. JB of Brisbane

    “Dammit, Jim, what am I, a Gallifreyan Timelord or a moon shuttle conductor?”

  15. I’ll be camped out in front of the TV, too!!

  16. J. Rich

    Will reduce data for food

  17. Frodis

    Polyester? Why polyester clothes, of course!

  18. DLC

    Dammit Jim I’m a Doctor, not a Physician!

  19. MarcusBailius

    Another Brit here (and a doctor, not a physician, indeed!), who was completely floored by the news from earlier this week about Lis Sladen. Nice tribute on Tom Baker’s website: http://www.tom-baker.co.uk/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=159

  20. Georg

    “”Polyester? Why polyester clothes, of course!””

    Astronomers are leading in wearing polyester cloths?

  21. davidlpf

    But I am the Doctor.

  22. BobStrause

    Keith (#9) that’s usually my answer too, but Zeno (#5) I like yours and would like to start using it, if you don’t mind – you know how we Capricorns are ūüėČ

  23. A lot of us were completely poleaxed by the news of her death. She seemed so ageless, I thought she’d be good for decades yet.

    For those who can’t get to iPlayer, the CBBC tribute special is on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MpdcXQODqY .


    Why do astronomers wear polyester? Occupational hazard? Can’t be that it keeps you warm on cold viewing nights…………………..????


    And I am a Doctor (physician, US, 59), now becoming curious of the sartorial habits of astronomers……………….?

  26. Cusp

    The vast majority of professional astronomers earn their keep by teaching and university administration. The research is effectively squeezed in when possible. The use is therefore EFTSU – we generate money. Yes, you could replace us with “professional teachers”, or other branches of physics, but we draw students into uni and offer research projects which are interesting. You want me to teach? Then let me get on with astronomy.

    As a professional astronomer, I don’t own polyester, but I do drink coffee.

    I don’t think propagating the nerd myth about professional scientists is particularly helpful.


    Agree with Cusp – thanks for his informative post, and don’t perpetuate untrue comedic-only stereotypes. Referencing his latter comments re: teaching and research – spot on. Only one question after no success on acronyms.com: EFTSU?
    Dr. J (Coffee Connoisseur)

  28. Cusp

    EFTSU – Equivalent Full-Time Student Unit – basically one full-time student bum on a seat.

  29. réalta fuar

    I agree with Cusp completely about propagating nerd myths. And while astronomers could be replaced with physicists to teach their uni classes, my experience is that they do so very badly!
    I once had a theoretician colleague who liked to brag that he never showed ANY images when HE taught intro astronomy…..(which, fortunately, was very rarely).
    I’m overly fond of telling people that I’m a doctor, but not the kind that saves lives Said that at a party with physicians once and was amazed when several of them said they were that kind of doctor also!

  30. Calli Arcale

    Awesome. ūüėČ

    Have to agree with MarcusBailius; Tom Baker’s tribute was very touching. I don’t really have a favorite Doctor, but I do have a favorite companion — Sarah Jane Smith. Amazingly, people who have met her have all said she was very like that in real life too. A true lady. Many have said how they were a bit leery of meeting her, lest childhood dreams be shattered, but no — sort of like Mr Rogers, she actually lived up to those childhood dreams.

    The premier of the new season was quite something. Awesome. Shocking. Scary. Funny. A times, gut-wrenching, and it’s amazing how much happened that was foreshadowed nicely in the trailers and things but which I still did not see coming.

    Re: not that kind of doctor, I’m reminded of Craig Ferguson’s version of the Dr Who theme, which he introduced like this:

    “Tonight’s show is a little different. Tonight’s show is about a man . . . who’s not really a man. He’s a doctor . . . but he’s not really a doctor. Like Doctor Phil! But *awesome*. ”

    In the animation, I love the smoke pouring out of the TARDIS. ūüėÄ

  31. CompaniaHill

    I thought your sign was Ophiuchus…

  32. Gary Ansorge

    Hmph!, Polyester, that’s so ’80s. These days I prefer hemp cloth,,,

    When asked my sign, I like to say “Yield!”(because resistance is futile).

    Gary 7

  33. CGM3

    So, Phil, as a doctor, I assume you only peek in the line of duty?

  34. Missy

    I loved the new episode!! I was so excited to see it on Saturday. I love that they had an ‘In memory of” at the end for Elizabeth. I was so sad to hear the news.


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