Thursday, August 21, 2008

Science loves me.

Well, my PI might not love me. My coworkers might not love me.

They can ignore me and hate my guts. That's fine.

Because my experiments love me.

Today, the things that didn't work before, finally worked.

It only took a few tries...

In truth, it's not that exciting. It's not a huge result (not groundbreaking!). But it's a step in the right direction.

And now I get to Analyze.

My experiments don't really care.

But in some ways, that's the best thing I could ask for: not being judged.

One of the things I always loved about science is that, with few exceptions, I can do it even when I'm upset, no matter what the weather outside, no matter what I'm wearing.

I don't have to be nice to my experiments to get them to work.

If they're going to work, they're going to work. If they don't work, I can't take it personally. It wouldn't make any sense. I just have to try again.

But when they work, I'm tempted to continue seeing Science, even if it is an abusive spouse.

And when strangers are willing to send me things I need, just because they're published and I asked nicely, I think Science loves me!.

I think, wow, not all scientists suck.

I mean, I knew that. It's just that most of the ones I have to work with on a regular basis resent that I want them to give a shit about doing their jobs.

They never will.

And it does seem like, whenever I think seriously about leaving, Science starts trying to make it up to me.

Damn you, Science. You and Trouble* might have to fight it out.

*Trouble loves me (and Morrissey), too.

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At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure you don't want to move into neuroscience? There's a whole field that studies intermittent rewards.

Nice to hear MsPhD got her groove back.

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's wild to me, this kind of science that you do. I'm a scientist, too- I'm an assistant prof., but I'm and ecologist and I work on plants. I'm totally an experimentalist, but my SHORTEST experiment takes a year. That's if I'm working on an annual plant. I've got to set things up, make my manipulation, and then....wait forever before I get any results! And then we have to repeat.

So, this kind of research progresses at a snail's pace. I really can't relate to the kind of experiment that you can do in a day, or a week, or whatever your time frame is.

I'd love to sit down over a beer and compare and contrast how science progresses in our fields, given the likelihood of taking risks with expensive, short term experiments (yours, I'd imagine) and relatively cheap, long term experiments (mine).

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Dr. Feelg00d said...

Wow, I really want to know what kind of science you do. I am neuroscience drug abuse researcher. I am a PI and I know how difficult it is when you are trying to get something to work. Keep it up, always ask for help, never try to re-invent the wheel. There is always someone smarter than you that can help you with your science. In fact, in most of my talks, I just say that I am the shmuck who presents the talks and schmoozes for the money, and the people that do the real work deserve all of the credit.

I've been there. Just keep going and do your science smartly.

Dr. F.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Jlascanteen said...

hello there...

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

anon 9:11,

you're so funny. intermittent awards, indeed.

anon 9:44,

I wouldn't do science if I had to wait that long. I don't know how you do it. And what do you do in the meantime?

My experiments aren't that expensive, actually, but the equipment is.


There is always someone smarter than you that can help you with your science.

I sometimes wish that were true, but I gave up on it a while ago. It has not been my experience.

I often find out useful, interesting things from talking to people, but it's rare that they see how their work could help mine.

I have to figure out what I can use and how to apply it.

In general, I have had a lot more run-ins with people who THINK they are smarter than me, and sometimes I think the hardest part of my job is persuading people that I actually am a whole lot smarter than anyone gives me credit for.

So far I haven't really run into anyone who consistently makes me go, "Oh! I wish I had thought of that! Thanks! Thank god that worked!"

More often, I've gotten suggestions from people that sound great, but upon further thought, make no sense at all. Unfortunately, PI doesn't actually pick up on the difference until I spend significant time and effort to explain why those particular ideas won't actually lead to anything useful or interesting (or anything interpretable, for that matter).

in most of my talks, I just say that I am the shmuck who presents the talks and schmoozes for the money, and the people that do the real work deserve all of the credit.

That's awesome. I would love to be that schmuck!

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Dr. Feelg00d said...

Actually, I mean smarter than you as it relates to the technical aspects of getting your experiment to work. Not the actual idea. I am plenty smart for that, and I am sure you are too. But I hate re-inventing the wheel for technical hurdles. Often when you find someone who doesnt help, you just need to find someone better. Its tough, but its worth the legwork. Of course, you have to know enough to know what you dont know (that make sense?).

At 4:02 PM, Blogger Unbalanced Reaction said...

I always work better when I'm upset or just plain pissed off.

Lately, I've been so damn happy. I suspect it's really getting in the way of my productivity! ;)

At 5:02 AM, Blogger Edwin said...

I too love Science but i don't have any background of it nor i am clever but since i love Science i am ready to be your experimental RAT that means i will end myself in love of Science.

At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science makes me feel a bit bipolar - the world completely sucks and everything in it when I cant make my experiments work - two weeks worth of work - nothing. I get hugely depressed and then when I think I hate my science something works and I love science again and all is right with my world. Till the next day.....


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