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May 2, 2002
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Not much time to post at the moment, between home life and work. If this were in my single days, I'd be at the lab until all hours working on the ideas I spoke of, but I don't think my two small children would care for that (and I'm certain that my wife wouldn't!) I give her updates on what's going on, though (we used to work at the same pharmaceutical company, and she knows the field.) Actually, I even give my 3 1/2 year old son updates: "Daddy, did you use your stir plate today?" "Yes, I did!" "Did you use your hydraulic hammer?" "My what?" "Did you use a backhoe today, Daddy?" "Um. . ."
I'm involved now in experiment design, trying to make sure that I control for all the possible explanations of what could happen. I find it useful to imagine myself explaining this stuff to the most sceptical/hostile people I've encountered in my scientific career. Picturing what questions they'd ask is a good way to come up with control experiments to make the results stronger.
It's frustrating not to immediately run and set something up, but a few days spent at this point could mean a lot. An experiment that looks like it might be big, but could also be explained by something uninteresting, is almost worse than having a negative result. With a little care up front, I can avoid that situation completely.
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