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The road to scientific advance

8 Jan 2010, 08:10 UTC
The road to scientific advance
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

While reading Rare Earths by Peter Ward, I found the following quotation:
“Much of the work we do as scientists involves filling in the details about matters that are basically understood already, applying standard techniques to new specific cases. But occasionally there is a question that offers an opportunity for a really major discovery.”
W. Alvarez, “T. Rex and the crater of Doom“, 1997, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press
If you are a scientist you will certainly recognize yourself in there. All your professional life is about this quest. And what (but only sometimes) makes you sad is that you are aware this major discovery will never come. Times have changed and those mythical ages when isolated scientists were making exceptional discoveries are now probably over. But still, in the back of your head, there is a small flame, always burning. It is the hope, against all facts, that someday something great will come. If it won’t, well, I tell you it is worth the effort anyway

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