We live in an age of uncertainty. I illustrated this article for the New York Times Science section this past week for a new column by George Johnson called Raw Data. New Truths That Only One Can See
From the article:
Since 1955, The Journal of Irreproducible Results has offered “spoofs, parodies, whimsies, burlesques, lampoons and satires” about life in the laboratory. Among its greatest hits: “Acoustic Oscillations in Jell-O, With and Without Fruit, Subjected to Varying Levels of Stress” and “Utilizing Infinite Loops to Compute an Approximate Value of Infinity.” The good-natured jibes are a backhanded celebration of science. What really goes on in the lab is, by implication, of a loftier, more serious nature.
It has been jarring to learn in recent years that a reproducible result may actually be the rarest of birds. Replication, the ability of another lab to reproduce a finding, is the gold standard of science, reassurance that you have discovered something true. But that is getting harder all the time. With the most accessible truths already discovered, what remains are often subtle effects, some so delicate that they can be conjured up only under ideal circumstances, using highly specialized techniques.
It's no laughing matter, and it has implications for research and development in the future. It's a great read, take the time to read the rest of the article.
Over the past few years it feels that the foundations of so many different things have been rattled. It's been a rough period, personally, and I know it has for a lot of folks everywhere. Now that the new year is here, and spring is coming soon, I feel a bit of optimism. I can say this with certainty: I am very happy to have worked on this. Thanks to Peter Morance at the Times for this one!