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When you tell folks at Back-to-School night at your kids' school that you’re a nuclear scientist, expect to get a variety of reactions (and some parents backing away). Many folks hear the word nuclear and immediately imagine you wearing a full body suit made of lead, breathing like Darth Vader from your high-tech gas mask. (Luke…. You have done well for yourself. But why bomb-making…? Didn't I raise you better? Oh right…I didn't raise you…)

It might be glorious to set this sort of stereotype on its head and tell people that you work in nuclear medicine to help heart, kidney, and lung patients; or let them know that you work for the U.S. Navy and its fleet of nuclear subs. (That'll get the little boys on your side quickly.) But even if you do work with radioactive isotopes (and you may not even need to go further than saying those two words), the protective gear you wear and the precautions you and your cohorts take isn't nearly as sci-fi as they would imagine.

In other words, glory, yes; but only with some explanation (although the kids will follow you around the rest of the time).