Petri Dish. Photo by believekevin.
There’s an interesting story on the BBC News site about the woman who discovered AZT could help inhibit the development of AIDS. It’s interesting because it shows what is usually the reaction to a discovery. She was examining petri dishes and found one sample where no cells had died after infection.
“I rang my supervisor, then I said: ‘I wonder if I forgot to put the virus in these 16?’” she recalls.
That tends to be my reaction. “That’s interesting!” followed by “I wonder what I did wrong?” In my experience that question is crucial because often the reason I’ve found something interesting is because there’s a gap in my knowledge rather than finding something new. It seems to be the reaction of people I work with. It’s common to ask a friend to look over what you’ve done and bounce ideas off people because it is possible that a simple mistake has been made.
It’s important because it’s the difference between scepticism and cynicism.