Crispin Halsall on big distractions

"A team of scientists huddled around a broken instrument or focused on a rare plant will not be aware of an approaching bear."

- Crispin Halsall

Dr Crispin Halsall, a chemist at Lancaster University in the UK, studies what happens to manmade chemicals such as pesticides and drugs out in the environment - including in the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic.

But who is studying the scientists?

The Arctic is a perilous place, and Halsall knows only too well the dangers of being too into your work. Like not noticing when deadly predators such as polar bears are sniffing at your heels.

It's a bit of a stereotype that scientists are so obsessed with their work that they often lose their regulation spectacles (later to be found perched safely on top of their heads). On the other hand, science does require an exquisite focus at times, and when you're pushing back the boundaries of the unknown, it can be difficult for normal life to get a word in edgewise. So we may have to concede that the stereotype may contain an element of truth.