Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Keeping up with science

In honor of the last few days of 2009, I wanted to write a post about some of the top science stories of the year. As I tried to write the post, I realized that sadly, my mind was blanking. I realized that over the last year, I have become so obsessed with finishing my degree, I have let my other interests slip away. I've let my interest slip away in science that is not my own (or so directly related to my own that I will need to reference it in my thesis). This development is not good, and needs to be remedied immediately.

In previous times when I was not so thesis obsessed, my favorite way to keep up with general science was by reading. I'd flip through Science and Nature titles, reading the ones that caught my eye. I also sometimes flipped through Physics Today, and sometimes read the science articles on Each year, I read about who won Nobel prizes and for what. (Keeping up with my field-specific science is a whole different story, that I may address in a post some other time.)

To keep up with science, I also previously attended way too many scientific talks. That's one of the hazards of being interdiciplinary. As a biophysicist, I felt pressure to go to all of the physics, biochemistry, biology, and optics talks at my university. And that easily added up to an average of more than one talk per day. More recently, I've practically boycotted all talks unless they directly related to my science or to potential post-doc interests. Previously I went to too many talks; now I go to too few.

So, for this year, I guess all I have is a lesson learned. A year of obsession is too long, and too much passes you by. This year I just kept thinking, another few weeks and this will be done and I can go back to my normal life. But it hasn't happened yet, so I need to back off a bit and find a better balance between my uber-focused thesis work and maintaining my interest in science in general. I need to choose a reasonable number of talks to attend, and I need to go back to my browsing of Science and Nature articles. Then maybe next year, I can post a good year in review.

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