Why do I love Physics? Because in no other intellectual pursuit is such a small investment rewarded on such a grand scale. The mind's interpretation of experiments here and now enables us to understand everything from the very smallest thread of space to the vastness of the universe this moment and throughout eternity.
I am ambivalent to my late-night realization in 2005 that I will never be a famous Physicist. Actively pursuing answers to the deep questions brings a great satisfaction to my life, and the excitement of the process is difficult to extinguish, even long after bedtime. None of this will come as a surprise to the hordes of my happy but anonymous compatriots. To the rest of you, I hope that my story will explain how physics and the pursuit of understanding brings meaning to life; and, it's so much darn fun.
I have always enjoyed science, and more broadly, reason. By shedding superstition and emotionally-based sloppy thinking, humans have made great progress in understanding the universe, from the fabric of spacetime, to clusters of galaxies, and everything in between, including life. Through an understanding of human evolution, we can appreciate our special place in the universe and marvel at the brain's ability to think. In short, the scientific method allows us to know what was thought unknowable only a few decades ago.
I get obsessed with my interests. I decided to deal with the stresses of being a young faculty member by setting up a fish tank with my daughter. In just a few months, this relaxing hobby turned our basement into a tropical fish breeding facility with a dozen large tanks. Sales of my fish to a local pet store accelerated my acquisition of equipment until the stresses of taking care of thousands of living creatures forced me to sell all of my tanks and take up astro-photography, a more relaxing hobby (or so I thought). I compulsively bought telescopes and equipment until I was forced to build a small room off of our garage to store everything, including a computer system on a desk with wheels.
At other times in my life, I read science fiction, amassing a nice collection of novels, whose colorful dust jackets decorate the shelves in our family room. Yearning for facts, I dropped my passion for fiction to read about history, religion, science, political philosophy, I.Q., etc. To satisfy my appetite for physical activity, I play ice hockey as often as possible.
Yet, I spend most of my time thinking about Physics. No other activity is more satisfying than understanding how things work or more spiritual than pondering the most basic questions. My career spans highly applied research - such as co-developing a process for making polymer optical fibers (resulting in a start-up company), through very esoteric basic physics - using both experimental and theoretical techniques to build an understanding of universal properties of light-matter interactions.