Top 10 Rare Science Moments

May 30 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Things have been cranking in the lab now that the summer has begun. The undergraduates are getting settled in and everyone is in a take no prisoners mind set. This is good.

There is a lot not to like about this job, with it's long hours and endless ways to make you question your intelligence via a litany of creative sources of rejection. However, there are many things to like as well.

This is my list of what keeps me motivated. Your drivers may be different, but these are my Top Ten Rare Science Moments that allow me to take the money chase, service bullshit and repeated rejection, in stride.

10. Seeing undergraduates get engaged in the work they are doing in the lab.

9. When shiny new equipment gets delivered.

8. Having a grad student or postdoc run with an idea for all the right reasons.

7. Watching someone from the lab give a killer talk.

6. The day that large amounts of data become available (Data Christmas).

5. The excitement of a trainee when they find something really cool.

4. Manuscript acceptance notification.

3. When the data lead you to a simple and testable hypothesis with enormous implications.

2. When your hypothesis turns out to be correct.

1. Grant funding notification.

What would you add?

20 responses so far

  • Dr24Hours says:

    Low down on the list: When my simulations compile without coding errors the first try.

  • Going to an awesome conference where you see all the people talk that you've read papers from. And it gets even aweseomer when they talk to you over a drink.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Babes n blow?

    I think I'm in the wrong subfield for that.

  • Bashir says:

    At some of my smaller conferences you can get almost everyone in the world working on some particular problem in the same room. Has to be kind of a small issue, and you can only get the principal folks, but the idea of just getting everyone in room to hash things out for a bit is very interesting.

  • Alma Dzib Goodin says:

    When your first paper is published after 10 magazines saying: what are you talking about?

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    Being at an international conference where five ex students, now PhDs, present talks on their research. That is as good as it ever got for me.

  • Natalie says:

    When I dump the right number of tubes onto the benchtop on the first try.

  • Dr. Zeek says:

    The sudden realization that people actually read the stuff you publish when someone comes up to you at a conference and says "Hey I read your paper on blah...what do you think about blah-blah...."

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    I published my dissertation work in 1966. I followed up a couple of things and published a couple of small papers, then went off in another direction. After I retired, I hung around for a year, and convinced a couple of newly hired young hotshots to pursue their research based on my dissertation work. They have done very well, grant funded, etc. At the meetings in 2006 one of their students gave a presentation and quoted, for comparison, data out of my 1966 paper. Forty years later and it's alive! I was pleased!

  • DJMH says:

    When your hypothesis turns out to be wrong...particularly if your hypothesis was shared by the whole field.

  • Huh, I think you got em all. Maybe...doing something new out of my subfield for the first time that will add unique components to whatthefuckever I normally work on...

  • Mac says:

    Field work. For myself it's the pleasure of immersion in the natural world as it runs around functioning - being born, dying, spreading, retracting, persisting - and I try to figure out how it all works. It's even more amazing when you see a student suddenly realize how glorious and unknown even those things they thought common really are.

  • Joat-mon says:

    When trainees get their awards, fellowships, and grants.

  • Busy says:

    The Aha! moment when suddenly everything makes sense.

  • anon says:

    Opposite of DJMH - when your hypothesis turns out to be right, despite the whole field not sharing your views.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    I have been commended, in print, for presenting clear well reasoned hypotheses which are thus easily falsified.

  • When you finish a project you've been banging on 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a few months, and you get vivid hallucinations as to all the wonderful things you can do now that you have free time: Ice cream! Video games! Seeing the sun! Boobies! Shower & do laundry!

  • Susan says:

    a) when former trainees let you know what you've meant to them, in some way, shape or form. That is hugely rewarding. Especially as a variant of "I'm so glad you taught me to do it the right way"

    b) getting cited, especially as "for discussion see Susan et al. (2002)"

  • Confounding says:

    Getting cited, or having someone you admire know who you are already.

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