Where do ideas come from? In each episode, scientists Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher explore science's creative side with a leading colleague. New episodes come ...
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Prisca Liberali and the junkies of discovery
Prisca Liberali is a senior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland. In this episode, Prisca tells us how her creative thinking thrives on recursive thinking – going deeper and deeper into a problem from different angles. Prisca also deliberately uses carefully chosen conferences to discuss and to develop ongoing projects. As much as her lab’s creativity is an inextricable part of the process, she admits that at the core it’s a lonely job. What eases leadership in the lab is learning who you are: which tasks you find easy and which tasks require excessive energy – and then sharing that information with your team members.For more information on Night Science, visit https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/night-science .
Tom Mullaney & Chris Rea on giving thanks to bias
Tom Mullaney is a Professor of History at Stanford University and the Kluge Chair in Technology and Society at the Library of Congress, and Chris Rea is a Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. In 2022, Tom and Chris published the book ‘Where Research Begins: Choosing a Research Project That Matters to You (and the World)’. In this episode, we talk about self-centered research (and about getting over yourself), how vulnerable self-confidence empowers your research, and how your personal biases are necessary for you to notice anything interesting at all. For more information on Night Science, visit https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/night-science .
Bonnie Bassler and living on the edge in a nerdy kind of way
Bonnie Bassler is the Chair of the Molecular Biology Department at Princeton. In this episode, Bonnie talks about her passion for scientific inquiry, creativity, mentorship, and how the journey of discovery is about asking the right questions, distinguishing between what you can do and what you should do, and about embracing the unexpected. In our very lively and fun discussion, we explore the significance of asking "why" questions to fuel passion and curiosity – even if only the if/what/when/how questions lead to clear answers – and we explore the balance between chaos and control in the scientific process. And so while the pay might be bad and the hours long, the joy of doing science and living on the edge in a “nerdy kind of way” makes it all worthwhile.For more information on Night Science, visit https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/night-science .
Yukiko Yamashita, the queen of analogies
Yukiko Yamashita is a biology professor at MIT and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Yukiko’s research is amazingly broad, perhaps because she often only realizes at the end of a project which question she was asking by what she had been doing, as she explains in this episode. She likens research to solving 5000-piece jigsaw puzzles – not one at a time, but with the pieces from hundreds of puzzles all dumped together. So that while we put the pieces together, we have to be always watching ourselves: does that come from the same picture? Yukiko sees her role in the lab like that of an old wise woman in a tribe, a kind of ancient memory that still remembers their conversation with former lab members – stimulating creativity by bridging projects and generations of researchers.For more information on Night Science, visit https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/night-science .
Stephen Wolfram is the Worldly Scientist
Can you think of another big company CEO that does basic science? Stephen Wolfram is the CEO of Wolfram Research – the company that developed Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha – but most fundamentally he has a deep commitment to figuring out the nature of reality. Stephen wrote the landmark ‘A new kind of science’ in 2002 and in his current ‘physics project’, Steven is trying to show that the universe is at its core computation, and that its fundamental laws arise from simple computational programs. We talked with Stephen about how he drills down to get the simplest possible explanations to tackle the foundations of scientific fields. He also told us how he makes progress by coming in with new tools to the old problems, with his own brand of scientific creativity.For more information on Night Science, visit https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/night-science .