Stuart Firestein likens science to finding a black cat in a dark room…especially when there is no cat. From his perspective as a neuroscientist and Professor at Columbia University, he paints a description of scientists bumping around in the dark trying to figure out what this is or that might be, perhaps finding that cat, which might or might not be there. And if it’s Schrödinger’s cat, might or might not be alive.
A young alien on a distant planet peers through a high-powered telescope seeing Earth’s surface and busy Earthlings. The curious alien notices several brightly colored yellow school buses and begins to track their movement. First, the alien observes that school buses are highly clustered for much of the day, and two times each day the clusters dissipate. The young alien is quite excited by this new discovery, and, confidently, terms it sudden bus dissipation (SBD™). After a few days, the exuberant alien notices that the yellow clusters stop dissipating. Puzzled, the alien continues to observe the buses and after two long days, the bus clusters dissipate again. Phew. All was well again until SBD™ suddenly ceases for 3 long months. How could this be?
It all began on a typical academic day, when a parchment sealed in wax arrived by messenger from a top scientific journal* inviting me to write a review on an area of science my lab studies.
*not real names, might have been email. #pilife
I casually do a happy dance and reply immediately accepting the invitation. Was replying within the same minute the invitation arrived too soon, I wonder?