The thrill

When people ask me why I do a PhD, I never really now what to answer … Is “because this is what I like to do” not enough ? But what do I actually like about it ? Some days, I am really not sure anymore; but then comes that moment. A defining moment reminding you why you like doing science. I think it applies to me, and I am sure it is true for many other scientists.

It’s the thrill.

The thrill when you suddenly think that are on the path of discovering something new.

It’s that moment of solitude that you generally don’t immediately share with anybody else. It’s that impression of having something truly great and novel, and the certainty that you are the first and only one in the world having that thought at that precise moment. These are the most magical and precious moments I had in my science life …

Of course, there are different kinds and levels of thrills. 

The intellectual thrill happens only when two neurons that never connected before suddenly do so. You have a new idea, no data to support it, but it sounds brilliant to you. Sadly, after a few days of evaluating the idea, or “submiting it for internal review” to you colleagues, you often leave it on the side of the road because you realize it was more science-fiction then science.

The practical thrill happens when you get new exciting data. It is more solid then the intellectual thrill, and is obviously more exciting. That kind of thrill can influence your next experiments and interests, and actually change or embellish your research project.

This week I had an “in silico” thrill while analyzing some data. It’s somewhere in between an intellectual and practical thrill (I am more a wet lab kind of person). Maybe in a week I will leave it in the back of my head, or toss it away; but for the moment I am still obsessed with it …

thethrill

All you ever wanted to know about viruses

I am a big fan of the podcast series called “This week in Virology“, hosted by Vincent Racianello (also known as “the guy who made the infectious cDNA of Polio”, said with all due respect and admiration); Dickson Despommier (An excellent parasitologist, now into vertical farming), and Alan Dove (a science writer and blogger at http://alandove.com/).

Every other day, they take 1-2 hours, to talk about viruses, the latest good papers in the field, and the weather.

 I love listening to these guys while I inject fruit flies for hours in our little fly room. Sometimes, it’s feels like traveling in space to their studio, and just have a casual lit’ discussion with them. The first podcast I listened to was the one with Raul Andino, casualy talking about RNA interference and immunity in Drosophila (Thanks to my very cool boss for the recommendation, if he ever reads me :)) .

Thanks to them, I already learned a lot about viruses, and most importantly, got contaminated with their “infectious enthusiasm” about good fundamental science and virology in general.

I can only recommend it to anybody who is remotely interested in science and viruses, it’s very accessible to any kind of public.

No more waiting, here is the link to their website :

http://www.twiv.tv/