Today afternoon my labmates and I discovered something really serious.
We were sitting there in front of our "designated" machines pretending to be busy when one of "us" got bored and came over for a chat. Soon the other joined us too!
Then as it follows when three chemists/physicists get together , we all got contemplative. It was so easy for Archimedes to go "Eureka!!!!" in the bath tub. Or how Newton just had to sit under an apple tree and suddenly reveal gravity to us.
Today everyone knows about gravity and buoyancy forces.
That is the problem!!
They have already discovered all the easy things and left all the difficult ones for us. That is why research seems so difficult! That is why we get lost in complicated hydrogen bonding and solvatochromic dyes.
Now that I am doing a PhD, I really want to invent something. If invention is too much of an aim, I at least want to discover something but I think there is nothing left.
Newton also apparently invented the catflap
He made a flap for his cat so that she could come visiting him in his lab whenever she felt like without bringing any light with her and upset his experiments. However, when she had kittens, Newton was so eager to please them all that he made several small flaps for the kittens too just to realize that they merrily followed their mum through the bigger flap!
Now that he is so famous, this story becomes a "cute" Newtonian story. If I had done something like that, I am pretty sure that people would roll their eyes and go "Gosh that is so much like you!! You are beyond help".
So the point is that there is nothing really left for me to invent or discover ( except maybe if I want to "discover" myself or something) and in order to be applauded for the silly things I end up discovering now and then ( Like the exact proportion of peanut butter and jam so as not to get the sandwich soggy or leave it dry), I have to invent or discover something obviously big first.
Every now and then, I do a scifinder search on my research topic and find that people are adding bits and pieces of publications to it. The scientific community is always gripped by a constant fear, " What if my current work is being published somewhere?".
We are constantly scared of some Su Chang or Sreedharan Ramaswamy Iyyer trying to write a paper on what we have been doing over the past few months.
I have decided to get over these fears though. Who are we to "discover"?
It is all already there. We are merely writing papers and amusing ourselves.
Even if we remember Newton and respect him it is his work that really matters and not his name! =)
I guess it pays to be philosophical and lazy at the same time but I genuinely hope that I discover something! =)