Thursday, July 1, 2010

Natural Evolution

Once upon a time, I had a topic for this project. Not a good research question, mind you, but a topic.

Next, came a stack of documents that seemed to be talking about that topic.

And now, diving into them, I find myself diverted by one particular tangent. I sit here and dutifully transcribe, but every time this tangent comes up, I perk right up. Which makes me suspect that my topic is evolving.

Not that I have a question yet or anything, mind you.

In other news: yesterday was a friend's birthday, a nice day at a local cultural spot. And I'm resisting going to the gym. But I will.


Comrade PhysioProf said...

I sit here and dutifully transcribe, but every time this tangent comes up, I perk right up.

I always trust my instincts when that happens. So-called "tangents" have led me to some very important discoveries.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

In fact, this reminds me of a Nobel Prize discovery: that of the aquaporin water channel by Peter Agre's laboratory.

They were studying some particular proteins in the surface of red blood cells, but every time the did a certain kind of protein assay, one of the most abundant proteins was this unknown protein that wasn't one of the proteins they were interested in and which they always just ignored. As Agre tells the story, one day he decided to just go ahead and try to figure out what the fuck that protein was. Figuring it out was an amazingly important discovery and earned him the Nobel.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

That's a very cool story, Comrade! Personally, I don't need a Nobel; I'll be happy with a good research question to get me going. But your point is taken: don't be bound by my original question.

squadratomagico said...

As I said over at my place: lateral progress is still progress. Sometimes I feel like my work is a spiral: it wanders around and sometimes seems like it's covering the same ground, but it's always a little more forward than the last time it was in that general position. It's all part of the process.