Graduate Journal

A hard day's night

What is it that makes me get up early in the morning after too little sleep? When the previous day was spent wrestling with another failed experiment, and cutting short phone calls home for another bunch of articles that needed to be read? It's strange, but I can't answer straight away.

Making science work — even at a basic level like in my graduate research projects — is attractive to much more than my intellect. The lab is the place where I spend most of the day and part of the night as well. My colleagues are the first people I share my thoughts with. It's hard to explain this level of engagement and involvement to others outside my little research universe. But sometimes it's pivotal to face the truth: doing research converts me into an egoist who chases ideas and results, and thereby forgets about time and society.

Despite the intensity of my lab life, it is a relief to have some people outside who I can't talk to about the stuff that occupies me the whole day. They wouldn't understand a word about what I spend most of my time doing. So in the end it's this ignorance that saves me and makes my day. It's this small preserve outside science that gives me time to recharge and get up in the morning to start off to the lab for another long day.

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Langenhan, T. A hard day's night. Nature 434, 120 (2005).

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