Got something off my desk!
Whoo hoo! I actually finished something on my long list of stressful things I needed to get done.
One down, at least two big ones to go. I've always been a sucker for checking things off the to-do list.
To the asshole who wrote me most recently to say that I should leave because Science Will Go On Without Me,
You said I'm not Einstein so who cares if I leave? One of the benefits of anonymity is that you don't know anything about my research. I find it interesting that you assume I'm replaceable. What if I'm not?
I was talking with someone recently about innovation. We were saying it's too bad there isn't an easy way to search Pubmed or Google to see how many projects got dropped because the funding ran out, somebody died, the project exceeded the currently technology, or somebody just quit and no one followed up on it. How many times have you read a paper from say, five or ten years ago, and looked to see what happened next? Only to find that nobody has published anything on it since?
What if nobody publishes anything else on it in your lifetime? Do you go do that research yourself? Or does the lack of that information push your research in another direction?
There are plenty of examples of stories in science that got dropped for say, 30 years, and then picked back up again. Or 100 years.
One of the only things that keeps me in science is knowing- not wondering in the slightest, actually- that my project is something that I can do now, and that science will be better off than if I left.
Here's an interesting story: They found Darwin's copy of the journal that Mendel's original pea-pod paper was published in. Guess which ones Darwin had read? All but Mendel's. Now guess how much farther along science would have been if he had. About 50 years. If the right person isn't there to make the connection, the idea doesn't go away, it just waits. Eventually, if it's the truth, the data will lead back to it.
What you don't realize is, I don't think I'm all that unusual. I'm just more vocal. Who knows what contributions my friends would have made if they had enjoyed the day-to-day of being scientists, if all the sexism and money stress were not factors in their lives?
The world will never know.
I write this blog because I believe everybody has something to contribute. I'm not saying you should care about me. I'm just trying to get you to THINK. About all those people out there, toiling away with little compensation. Most non-scientists have no idea what we do all day.
Unfortunately we don't have the funding to support everyone, so from time to time I make controversial suggestions about what we could do to get the system unclogged. And from time to time, like everyone who reads this blog, I think about quitting. Not because I think what I'm doing is pointless in the grand scheme of things. That was never an issue. I worry about real-life issues like owning a house someday, and I worry whether anybody alive today actually reads the papers I publish (besides the reviewers who trash them). I don't want to be an Emily Dickinson or a Gregor Mendel if I can help it! Everybody in science worries about these things.... don't they? If not, maybe they should.
Einstein was unusually lucky to receive kudos for his work during his lifetime. I'm neither as pithy as Einstein, nor as mathematically inclined. But from what I can tell, neither are you.