Two quick things
I know I still have to respond to the comments on my reading comprehension/science literacy post. I’ll get to that soon. Until then, I recommend you check out two things. First, read this beautiful post over at http://skullcrushermountain.blogspot.com/. LT eloquently describes the sadness of cleaning up his old grad school papers. Take this passage:
But going through the papers made me sad. It was like disturbing the cobwebs in long-dormant parts of my mind. I vaguely remembered many of the papers, and remembered why I had them, what questions spurred me to track them down and read them. Those questions remain unanswered, those avenues of research unpursued, at least by me. It is remarkable, really, how widely human curiosity has spanned. Whatever your question, chances are someone else has tried to find the answer. And yet, we never run out of questions, because every answer suggests more.
And later on:
I am not naive enough to believe that – even had I stayed and prospered in academia – I would have had time to follow all those untrodden paths. I knew and still know many harried and unhappy assistant professors. And it was partly the relentless drive to specialize that drove me away from the university. (It was also a desire to be more relevant – that push and pull I talked about here.) Grad school was a special time and when it ended, it was over regardless of what came next. Short of becoming independently wealthy and being able to do as I please, that existence has forever ceased to be an option. But the systematic asking of questions and iterative gathering up of knowledge to answer them is part of the core of my being, part of how I approach everything. It was simply writ large in my personal library.
As I said earlier, quite beautiful. This blog is the first time in my life I’ve tried to write often and (somewhat) systematically. In the past it was mostly for coursework or an ad-hoc basis. Hopefully one day I can build up to that level.
The second thing to check out is the blog for “The Rightful Place of Science?” conference I’m currently attending. You might be interested in it. Academics often talk about interdisciplinary collaboration, but this meeting is the first time I’ve seen it in action. I’ve already spoken with a dozen or so creative writers, observed a panel with a science reporter and a historian/philosopher, saw a talk by a PhD in religious studies, and watched two short plays about science. It’s really good stuff.