Philosophy




Science is a lot of work for anyone to undertake unless they truly enjoy it. I have found that one must not only enjoy the intellectual voyage but also the day-to-day experimental work. That amazing breakthrough you dream of doesn't come about very often, but enjoying the little successes will sustain you till then. If you are not captivated both by the intellectual and the experimental day to day work in the lab, then go do something different. Life is too short for work not to be enjoyable, so go find something else that you'll have fun doing.

Keeping these caveats in mind, science can be the doorway to an incredibly fun life. As a virologist friend likes to say, who else gets to play with cool toys in the lab, travel to exotic places just to chat with like-minded people, and spend more or less all their time exploring and doing whatever they like (provided they can convince someone to pay for it)?

Below are some quotes and fun things relevant to life in a lab:


Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist:
What drives people to do science? An experiment in filmmaking by Richard Rifkind (scientist and Chairman Emeritus of SKI), this documentary presents an honest review of life in a lab: the hard, at times lonely, often extremely frustrating but once in a while exhilarating pursuit of knowledge.



Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted..
-- Albert Einstein -- (here re-purposed, in light of the current torrent of next-gen-seq data)


Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt, this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help, but I think scientific education might do more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.
-- Martin Schwartz -- (For fulltext, click here)


My last lesson, Lesson 7, for the young and not-so-young scientists is never to leave bench work. I have always done (and I am still doing and greatly enjoying) bench work, often on a daily basis, and I find it very important for creativity. Testing your ideas yourself will excite you greatly. When I do an experiment myself, there is great anticipation and excitement until the results are obtained. When I see results that are unexpected, then I get even more excited. There is a very intense involvement in research when it is performed with your own hands.
-- Avram Hershko -- (For fulltext, click here)


You can't rise to the top by sitting on your bottom.
-- Michael P. Rout --


The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
-- Thomas H. Huxley --


It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast - it keeps him/her young.
-- Konrad Lorenz --


We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
-- Frank Tibolt --


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
-- Albert Einstein --


It's going to be OK in the end. If it's not OK, it's not the end.
-- Unknown --


Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
-- Howard Aiken --


You can sleep with a model, but you should not marry a model.
-- Scientist who shall remain anonymous --


You are one, and they are many. If you do not work day and night, they will crush you like a roach.
-- Günter Blobel --


Just keep swimming...
-- Dory (Finding Nemo)--


Never waste pure thoughts on an impure protein.
-- Unknown Scientist --


Every morning at sea a minnow wakes up.
It knows it has to swim faster than the fastest shark or it will be killed.
Every morning a shark wakes up and knows that it must outswim the slowest minnow or it will starve to death.
So, it doesnt matter if you are a minnow or a shark,
when the sun comes up, you had better be swimming.
-- Unknown --