Day: August 29, 2017


This morning, by way of Google Scholar alerts, I found out that we’d almost sorta got scooped.


I work on roughly four loosely connected topics, and a group that works on one of them (and only that one) published a paper that presents an alternative approach to ours. It’s less rigorous, it has similar numerical requirements, and I think they might get in trouble if some of the physical constraints are broken (see lack of rigor), but overall it’s a contender for the same type of stuff we do.

I was a bit ruffled for about 45 min, i.e., the duration of my kickboxing class this morning. But then I got coffee, did some work, did some non-work-related writing, and soon enough I was thinking “Whatevs.”

When novel contributions in a field become infinitesimally different from one another, so you have to bend over backwards and stomp on your colleague’s work to claim novelty, it’s time to move on, into a field that’s newer, less mature, and not saturated yet. Where there’s time to think and breathe, and not rush to publication.

Haha! This is my summer brain talking; there are no such fields. Immature yet promising fields are the dragonflies of science — fragile, with a short life span, and born around festering swamps.

Maybe what I am thinking of instead are the fields that are so mature — elderly, to be honest — that only the super-hard problems are left, so if you successfully tackle one of them, you can rejuvenate the whole field. There is definitely no rush there, but alas, no grant funding either.

Welcome to the fall season of proposal writing!