Famous Scientists Quotes – 1 – Chance favors only the prepared mind.

Time for another quote ! This time, not from a contemporary PI, but from one of my favorite scientist (a review of a biography will come up at some point) : Louis Pasteur !

When casually talking with your fellow PhD’s, I’m sure you often end up saying that what make the difference between an average PhD and and great PhD is a little bit of chance. I have to say I don’t fully adhere to the idea, and to support it, here come the quote of the day :

“Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

I would fully agree with this statement. A talented scientist had always to be ready for chance, and should be ready to see peculiar little results as interesting, rather then “missed experiment”, “background noise”, “variability”, “outliner”, and so on … Great discoveries were made by people who knew how to look at data scientifically, and who were prepared for chance. I think it’s a crucial point.

Moreover, I would like to add this one : “When you work seven days a week, fourteen hours a day, you get lucky.” – Louis Pasteur

That’s even more true. Success always ends up being tightly conditioned by work. I do not believe a second that talent, chance, or fate are ever enough.

Hum … food for thoughts, right ?




Vacations during the PhD

Tomorrow starts my summer vacations (wouhou !) We’re very lucky to have, I quote my PI, way to much vacations, here in the Netherlands. 9 weeks a year.

So I will be out of the lab for 3 weeks now, and it felt really weird leaving it this evening. I put all my drosophila stocks on new food, and said my goodbyes. I don’t know if this is even possible; but I felt sad to leave the lab, as if it had become an addiction ! Also, last night I tried to open the door of my house with the magnetic card of the lab … Yep, it’s time to take a break.

I always remember this drawing from PhD Comics :

Right now, I think I just past the first  peak, and start the descending slope … 

I will be in a Wi-Fi free zone most of the time (I hope I can deal with this other addiction, btw), which means I will not check e-mails at all. I think it’s great to do that at least once a year.

That also means that I will blog very scarcely starting in a few days, although I prepared some cool posts, and I hope the “automatic programed posting” by WordPress works …

PI Quotes – 3 “If my son ever tells me he wants to be a scientist … “

Time for “PI Quote” number 3 …

I discussed here and there with my supervisor about making a career in academia, being a scientist, etc … So one day were I felt really good about everything, I told him that I definitely wanted to become a scientist !

I looked at mi with this half-happy/half-sad face, and said:

“If my son ever tells me he wants to be a scientist, I will slap him in the face !” 

I still think about here and there, and wonder if this was not the most blunt warning ever …

Actually, I still don’t know what to think about this …  I think no parent advices his kid to do the same job then him … or does it  happen ? What do you say ?

Book review 1 : Mastering your PhD

Here come a new “series” of posts … books ! Not nerdy science articles, but real books that you can buy in hardcover for the old-fashioned ones (;-)) or download on your tablet for the geeks !  I wish I would take more time to read books instead of surfing the internet for hours, but somehow it’s a difficult take that step …

Anyway, there is a book that I read back to back about 6 months after I started my PhD, and surprise surprise, it’s about doing a PhD !

Mastering your PhD: Survival and Success in the doctoral years and beyond is a book written by Patricia Gosling and Lambertus Noordam, edited by Springer. (Amazon link over here)

What is is about ? 

It’s about all the not-directly-related-to-science aspects of the PhD, and the chapters come in the natural order all these subjects arise  : How to design good experiments, dealing with setbacks, how to deal with your lab mates and mentor, mastering presentations, first international conference, from data to manuscript, the final year, and what comes after … (and many more)

What did I think ? 

Thumbs up …  

-The book looks very serious and “academic”, but it’s actually very fun, and nice to read ! The description on the different types of research groups, from the “young ambitious investigator” to the “empire, lead by an old scientist and senior post-docs” was so good ! Also, the analysis of the different characters of the lab, like “Golden boy”, is very close to the reality …

-The advices given are realistic and totally applicable. Some of them seem actually very natural.

-It goes through the entire PhD path, so you can basically make usage of the book anytime.

Thumbs down … 

– The book consists mainly of  “theoretical” chapters, but offers here and there some “side stories” about a fictional research team. It sounds nice like that, but I did not like these parts that much, and skipped them towards the end.

– I cannot find anything else …

Well, I am not doing any “promoting” or publicity here, just giving my opinion about the book I read, you can judge by yourself if you want to read it or not sometime !