Speaking of Science

February 2011's selection of notable quotes

Feb 1, 2011
Not cited

Fertnig / ISTOCKphoto.com

Even the most unreasonable postdoc is more reasonable than a two-year-old. And the distraction strategies you apply to a two-year-old work equally well in the lab. So being a mum has probably made me a better lab manager.

Cambridge University molecular geneticist Fiona Watt, profiled in The Scientist (Jan. 2011)

We cannot escape the troubling conclusion that some—perhaps many—cherished generalities are at best exaggerated in their biological significance and at worst a collective illusion nurtured by strong a-priori beliefs often repeated.

University of Alberta biologist Richard Palmer as quoted by Jonah Lehrer in “The Truth Wears Off: Is There Something Wrong With the Scientific Method?” (The New Yorker, Dec. 13, 2010)

Every single cell in nature is covered with a dense and complex array of glycans, which have a huge amount of information content. If [they] were not important, three billion years of evolution would have produced cells that are not covered with sugars.

Ajit Varki, University of California, San Diego, biologist and cofounder of the transdisciplinary Center for Academic Research in Anthropogeny, in a video interview on F1000’s Naturally Selected blog

Despite the positive impact of emerging communication technologies on scientific research, our results provide striking evidence for the role of physical proximity as a predictor of the impact of collaborations.

Kyungjoon Lee et al., in a recent paper on the importance of being in physical contact with scientific collaborators (PLoS ONE, 5:e14279, 2010)

We evolutionary anthropologists are outnumbered by the new cultural or social anthropologists, many but not all of whom are postmodern, which seems to translate into antiscience.

Frank W. Marlowe, president-elect of the Evolutionary Anthropology Society, on the American Anthropology Association executive board’s stripping of the word “science” from its long-term plan (New York Times, Dec. 13, 2010)

Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.

German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun (1912–1977)