Sometimes taking a step back can move science forward. More
What “For Dummies” book are you most qualified to write?
In this issue of the Bulletin, one HHMI researcher describes the birth of Stem Cells for Dummies. But researchers’ skills go beyond straightforward science. Here, a few name the Dummies book they’d like to write.
“How to Produce Fruit Fly Designer Babies for Dummies. The book would describe how to perform mutagenesis and would outline various selection schemes to identify desired embryo phenotypes. Sample pictures of shaven-baby and bigbrain embryos would be shown. Strategies for establishing fruit fly families that will continue to produce the desired embryos for many generations would be discussed. I would also provide a list of my favorite music for getting through the more tedious parts of the procedures. The final chapter would cover good ways to take pictures of the embryos to share with colleagues, friends, and family.”
“I would love to write a book named Childish Curiosity for Dummies. Since I can remember, I have been curious about everything from physics to history. As a teenager, I gravitated toward physics because of the math and the fact that observations could be made quantitative—black and white, so to speak—instead of relying on qualitative arguments. The goal of my book would be to teach the reader to see the beauty in different disciplines. A beautifully conceived experiment or model leaves me in awe, whether it is the ultimatum game (which is played in economic experiments) or the Ising model (a mathematical model in statistical mechanics).”
Neil Hunter HHMI EARLY CAREER SCIENTIST University of California, Davis
“I feel amply qualified to write a Daydreaming for Dummies guide, especially one targeted at scientists. Daydreaming is generally considered lazy and unproductive, but I find it incredibly productive! Useful daydreams can be had in the shower, while brushing your teeth, or during your commute to work. The secret to productive daydreaming is to alternate it with data input, such as reading/reviewing papers, analyzing data, talking over projects with students or postdocs, and listening to talks at a conference. I’m convinced that our best thoughts and ideas—especially those that require complex problem solving—come during these ‘distracted’ periods.”
“I would write a Synchrotron Survival Guide for Dummies for researchers tediously collecting data from these large particle accelerators. Practical tips would include: bring a toothbrush to combat the 3 a.m. fuzzy mouth feeling and warm sweaters for the midnight draft. Chocolate-covered coffee beans are a must. Another section would describe how to interact with synchrotron staff—make sure you have their cell phone numbers, and bring appeasement gifts if you have to call them at 2 a.m. (Swiss chocolate works best). Finally, bring your invisibility cloak in case you trip the entire beam and you need to escape the wrath of disgruntled researchers. If you don’t have one, bring more chocolate.”
Photos: Amaral: Andrew Cambell; Luger: John Eisele / CSU; Schupbach: Laura Wieschaus; Hunter: Paul Fetters