Thursday, 2 December 2010

A rule of life

I love the varied rhythm of working in science:

• Experimenting. This is nicely practical, hands-on kind of work. Something I hardly ever experienced in my previous life as a software techie. Grappling with the cussedness of the physical world. Cleaning noise out of an electrical circuit. Getting a pump to pump at a consistent rate. Making a tiny grating with platinum wire and dental floss. Keeping living tissue healthy. (Endlessly) making up solutions.

• Reading. Another kind of grappling, with densely written, unapologetically expert papers. It gets easier with time, as I become more familiar with the field. Learning to read critically, not just accepting everything I read. Making time for reading (not just fag-ends like the daily tube).

• Writing. I've always liked writing. However, there is a certain fear-hurdle to be jumped with scientific writing. A feeling that I have to know everything before I can even start.

• Listening. At UCL there are many many opportunities to learn from the very best. Lectures, seminars, journal clubs, conferences, symposia. Fantastic. I just have to make space for at least some of this.

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