The other morning, between about 7.30 and 8.45, I had a long, involved and very realistic dream. In it, I visited the MRC LMB in Cambridge, to discover that it had been partly rebuilt into a modern, if not downright space-age, version of a boarding school I once attended. Where my real-world lab had been, however, hadn’t been refurbished and so I made my way through the twisty maze of passages that linked the gleaming whiteness of the new bit to the old bit to say hello to my erstwhile boss. He wasn’t there however, so I sat down at one of the Macs and started writing a blog post.
Way to go, subconscious mind.
As you might imagine, I was reasonably disappointed to wake up and realize I hadn’t written the post (or, if I had, I hadn’t saved it anywhere accessible). But I remember quite clearly the subject of the post, so here you go.
A few years ago, when I was thinking about getting more into writing, I learned that a certain editor of a certain magazine for scientists wasn’t interested in articles from ‘whiny postdocs’. I thought that was a bit rich, but you know what? He had a point. Maybe not so much here at OT, but certainly in other places and in a lot of cartoons (hello Nik!) there is a lot of whining going on.
And maybe it’s because the sun is shining and the spring bulbs are turning their faces to the sky and the birds are coughing in the trees, but I feel like looking on the bright side. I used to say that the day I stopped enjoying doing science, specifically the day I stopped seeing the beauty of immunofluorescent stained cells or failed to be wowed by looking down a microscope at cells in culture would be the day it was time to quit science. As it happens, I got out of the doing of science (professionally, at least) while I was still enjoying it, so I never suffered that kind of disillusionment.
But the thought remains: if so many of us–of you, perhaps–whine so much about science, why do you still do it?
After all, there are many good reasons not to continue–the pay, the conditions, the antisocial hours, the sheer drudging tedium of some of it and the huge amounts of disappointment. What keeps you going?
Why do you stay at the bench?
Extra credit will be given for examples.