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CONSEJOS A UN JOVEN

CIENTFICO
Pedro Miguel Etxenike
wapetlap@sq.ehu.es

Barcelona
20 de febrero de 2006
DONOSTIA INTERNATIONAL
PHYSICS CENTER

Pedro, where did you


learn English?
In Oxford, Sir
Did you ask for your
money back?
No Sir, success was not
guaranteed

It is better to learn from


the bad experience of
others than from your
own
Peter Feibelman

I. THERE IS NOT THE


SCIENTIST THERE ARE
SCIENTISTS

James Watson

Francis Crick

Three motives to prosecute


research.
The first is intellectual curiosity.
Then, professional pride.
Finally, ambition, desire for
reputation, and the position, even the
power or the money.
A Mathematicians Apology. G.H. Hardy

II. CREATIVITY

Creativity is the faculty of mind or spirit


that empowers us to bring into existence,
ostensibly out of nothing, something of
beauty, order or significance.
Peter Medawar

What chiefly characterizes creative


thinking from more mundane forms are
(i) willingness to accept vaguely defined
problem statements and gradually
structure them,
(ii) continuing preoccupation with
problems over a considerable period of
time, and
(iii) extensive background knowledge in

relevant and potentially relevant areas


Herbert Simon

PREPARATION
INCUBATION
ILLUMINATION
VERIFICATION
J.E. Littlewood

Knowledge, obsession, daring

It is the supreme art of the


teacher to awaken joy in
creative expression and
knowledge.
A. Einstein

Imagination is more important


than knowledge.
Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the
world.
A. Einstein

Deep generative ideas are a


product of curiosity

Creativity is not just having ideas; it


is ideas, convictions, decisions and
actions.

Toda obra grande en arte


como en ciencia es el
resultado de una gran
pasin puesta al servicio de
una gran idea.
Ramn y Cajal

Good scientific policy, Universities and Public


Centers at the Frontiers of knowledge.

Ensure that:
- Scientifically

creative thinking is actively developed


in the young.

- Sustained rather than undermined at all stages of


a career.
- Supported rather than opposed at maturity.

There are several reasons for wanting to leave academia, not


the least being the desire for a work environment which
rewards those who take appropriate risks The problems I
have been attracted to are motivated by real world data
where there is no existing theoretical model. Involvement in
such projects requires a desire for new challenges, an
appetite for risk, and the ability to be innovative yet humble in
the face of data.
Letter sent by one of P. W. Andersons students to a wellknown management consulting firm

The best way to prevent the end of science is to provide


opportunity in abundance for the most creative and original
of our young people. This is not happening. But it needs
to.
Philipp W. Anderson

III.CHOOSE A GOOD
PLACE

IV. LEARN TO SWIM BY


SWIMMING

Science is to be able to say


something without knowing
everything.
H. Bondi

Scientists do not discover in order


to know, they know in order to
discover.
Consilience Edward O. Wilson

V. SELECT A GOOD
PROJECT

INTELLIGENCE
I like to define as optimum
intelligence for a normal
science: bright enough to see
what needs to be done but not
so bright as to suffer boredom
doing it

VI. HISTORY OF
SCIENCE

Learn something about the history


of science.
The best antidote to the philosophy
of science is a knowledge of the
history of science.
History of science can make your
work seem more worthwhile to you.

VII. AMBITION

Bismarck: Politics is the art of the


possible.

Medawar: Science is the art of the


solvable.

A mans first duty, a young mans at


any rate, is to be ambitious but the
noblest ambition is that of leaving
behind one something of permanent
value.
A Mathematicians Apology. G.H. Hardy

Dont bite off more than you can


chew.

VIII. ESTABLISHING A
NAME FOR YOURSELF

IX. TIMING

X. PUBLISH BUT NOT


FASTER THAN YOU THINK

Publish or Perish

Good science opens new


doors

Dear Sir,
We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you our manuscript for publication
and had not authorized you to show it to specialists befor it is
printed. I see no reason to address the-in any case erroneouscomments of your anonymous expert. On the basis of this incident
I prefer to publish the paper elsewhere.
Respectfully,

P.S. Mr. Rosen, who has left for the Soviet Union, has authorized
me to represent him in this matter.

Einstein, who reacted angrily to the referee report,


would have been well advised to pay more attention to
its criticisms, which proved to be valid.

XI. COMMUNICATION
SKILLS. LEARN TO
COMMUNICATE

1. Your seminar is a performance. It needs to be carefully


planned and thoroughly rehearsed.
2. Present yourself confidently. Act as though you have
enjoyed doing your research and that your results are
exciting to you.
3. Respect your audience. They are spending an hour to hear
you. They want to understand what you have to say, even if
your specialty is not theirs. They do not want to be "snowed",
nor do they want to be treated as " experts" in a field where
they really are not.
4. Do not waste your time with filler. Make sure each slide
pushes your story forward. If your talk is a bit too short, no one
will object.
5. Make your visual aids pleasing to the eye without too much
of a Madison Avenue look.
P. Feibelman. A Ph.D. is not enough

XII. BELIEVE IN YOUR


IDEAS BUT NOT
INFINITELY

I cannot give any scientist of any age


better advice than this. The intensity of
the conviction that a hypothesis is true
has no bearing on whether it is true or
not.
(Peter Medawar)

Innovative, yet humble in the face of


data.
(PWA)

El que deja fuera todos los


errores dejar fuera la verdad.
(R. Tagore)

XIII. CULTIVATE SMART


FRIENDS

XIV. ETHICS

XV. DONT BE ENVIOUS

XVI. HOLTONS INTEGRITY


PRINCIPLES

HOLTONS INTEGRITY PRINCIPLES


Studying Bohrs work and life. I see four principles of integrity in science.
The first: Try to get it right to all costs, sparing no effort.
The second: Try to be a scientist first, a specialist second.
The third: Science is, and should be a part of the total world view
of our time. This is a vision you should imaginatively explore,
defend and contribute to.
.The laboratory remains our workplace, but it must not become our hiding place.
The fourth: The special obligation scientists have to exercise sound
citizenship that obligation is special and the very opposite of elitist
arrogance.
We stand not only on the shoulders of a few but also at the graves of thousands.
GERALD HOLTON
Candor and Integrity in Science. Syntheses

XVI. SUCCESS FORMULA

COURSE OF BUSINESS MANAGEMENT


Knowledge=Power
Time=Money
THERMODYNAMICS
Power=Work/Time
AFTER SOME COMPLEX ALGEBRA
Money=Work/Knowledge

XVII. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF


A PhD?

People who have learned the process of critical thinking.


People who know that important things, even if small,
require a big and long-term effort.
People who recognize their errors and rectify them.
People who communicate and know how to do it.
People who know how to formulate ideas
People who know how to discuss and defend their own
ideas.
People who know how to extract the essential from
complex problems.
The market value is likely to be, your problem solving
skills and flexibility and less likely to be in a particular
process or technique.

XVIII. THE FUTURE

THE FUTURE
Flexible persons, capable of critical
thinking with intelectual courage and
strategic vision of the future.