Like Adam Ruben, author of “Experimental Error: Most Likely to Secede” in the life and career section of the journal Science, I grew up dreaming about winning the Nobel Prize, curing cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease, worshiping the theme music of NOVA, and substituting hours upon hours of Pokemon for hours upon hours of the Discovery channel. My college essay, which I still have saved on my computer and sometimes peruse to see whether I’ve lived up to all the dreams and expectations I listed in my personal statement, is a written testimony to my undying passion for the physical, chemical, and biological sciences. The sterile, metallic world of fume hoods, lab benches, and microscopes, the tinkle of glassware, and the blinding white canvas of laboratory coats held a special reverence for me. I dreamed about one day belonging to the same group of colleagues that I so admired and envied during my stint at the neurology lab I sojourned in for a brief summer of my junior year. Then, I read Ruben’s article, and it compelled me to reflect upon how much of my fantasy was actually in store for me.
I think Ruben makes a very good point about the frustrations faced by the everyday scientist laboring in your average laboratory. While it does not demote science to a less holy subject, it does strongly question the wisdom of current practices, pointing out especially the danger of disillusioning a young, rising generation of future scientists, brimming with hope and prospects of realizing at least some of the things I wrote and dreamed about in my college essay.