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Posts Tagged ‘team’

Science is an Unusual Team Sport

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

–by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

Scientists are curious. We all know that. But more importantly they are team players…that’s because they recognize we are all in the same “line of business”—because we are curious. The basic cheer of science is something like “We’re curious, rah rah, and we want to find out, rah rah! Join us, rah, and we’ll tell you what we’ve learned so far, rah, rah!”

One luxury that I particularly enjoy of working in a scientific environment is the multiple stimulating interactions with scientists from other labs, universities, and countries. For instance, this week at TRIUMF, I was able to find time (I suppose everyone thinks that lab directors can do what they want, when they want, but that is hardly true) to hear three lectures: one on our involvement in the medical-isotope crisis, one on the search for dark matter using a detector in orbit, and one on LHC searches for new physics. None of what we heard was conclusive. We are just learning to make useful targets for isotope production, dark matter was not found, nor new physics at the LHC.

But what was really enjoyable was the camaraderie between scientists, often between those that do not know one another: Did you try this? Did you look at that? Oh, that was really impressive! We know they are not going to give up the quest; we want them to win because we want to know the answer. A mutual win—no, not a tie, a really mutual win. This is not a concept that Sri Lanka would understand when India won the world cup in cricket. But in science, we are ALL cheering for a win.

Scientists know the challenges of advancing knowledge at the frontier. They have to stretch accelerator technology, detector abilities, push data transmission speed records (think the extreme LHC data rates), and invent clever data mining and analysis methods. We all try to do it, and so we sympathize with our colleagues as they struggle to make progress in their own areas. We are comrades in a quest for knowledge…a quest to unlock the closely guarded secrets of nature. We are team mates in the unusual, critically important sport of science.

Now pardon me, whilst I go get some practice in before next week’s game!

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