Remembering why science is fun.
I haven't been blogging much because I've been too busy having fun doing science.
Hooray! There's a phrase I can never use too much.
Had an adorable encounter with a visiting student who said my lab would be the one to join, and how soon would that be possible?
So cute. Wish I could have said 'soon'.
Otherwise, I'm enjoying, sort of, compiling mounds of data and making them into presentable formats.
I say sort of because it's still pretty tedious. I hate making sure everything is lined up perfectly and exactly the same size, but it has to be done.
I say enjoying because hey, I can put on my iTunes and whenever I finish something and print it out, it looks pretty good.
My main problem right now is actually also why I've always liked science: switching back and forth from visual to verbal and back again is really challenging.
It never occurred to me that this can be so hard, until recently when I was reading a book that described exercises for switching among the senses.
One of the exercises is perfect for most of us in a very zen way, regardless of your profession.
It was simply to practice throwing a ball up in the air, and catching it.
The idea is to think about how when you're throwing, that's active, and when you release it, that's passive. Waiting for it to come back down is observant, and catching it is making a connection.
Or something like that. I'm paraphrasing from memory here.
Anyway the point being that it's a lot like research. There's the wind up to the experiment, then putting everything in motion. Then you wait for the result. Then you have to figure out what it means.
I'm on the part where I'm building up to put the meaning out there, out in the world.
In a way it is putting a lot of things in motion.
It's very easy to just do experiments and never tell anyone about them. We all do it. The weird results that don't fit with anyone else's, the ones that we can't explain.
Some people are satisfied to stop at that point. (You don't want one of those people as your advisor!)
In the current climate, the process of putting it out there is at least as important, if not more important, than doing the experiment.
It has its own wind up (making the figures, writing the text, practicing the talk), delivery, waiting (especially if you apply for jobs!) and hopefully, if all goes well, making that connection.
I'm struggling with being in visual mode and then having to go into verbal mode. It's hard!
The wind up part can be really fun. Nobody is judging your data or your interpretation of it, and best of all, nobody is judging you personally.
But eventually they will. That part is scary.
In the meantime, you have to enjoy the part where you know something they don't know: you already know the answer.