If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected, for it is hard to find and difficult. -Heraclitus (quoted within Loren Eiseley’s “The Unexpected Universe”)
I have a confession. I often get bored or zone out during academic seminars. Sometimes the topic is outside my field and presented at a technical level that I can’t follow. Sometimes I’m too anxious about other tasks to really pay attention. Sometimes I’m just tired. I love working in my lab and spending time reading, writing and analyzing data. So sometimes, it’s hard to tear myself away to attend yet another seminar. I attend as often as possible to learn a bit about what my WHOI colleagues are doing and to help create a good impression for visitors. I inevitably learn bits and pieces that are interesting or useful, but does that average seminar have a measurable impact on my scientific productivity? I doubt it.
But, and this is an important “but”, there are some extreme outliers. I can think of two seminars that have had dramatic and direct impacts on my scientific career. Read More →