When I woke up this morning, having failed to crystallize on paper my scientific mulling over the weekend, I was prepared to write about the ongoing, inherent failure of science to always produce the ‘right’ answers to big questions. For decades, biologists have struggled with low rates of replication of important findings. Meta-analyses of the literature on cancer drug screening, the identity of cancer cell lines, the efficacy of ADHD drugs, the replicability of genetic association studies on disease, and even the choice of statistical tests used in major journals to prove the importance of scientific claims, have broadly demonstrated that while science eventually finds the right answers, a whole slew of initial claims (which are the most widely reported by the media due to their novelty) eventually turn out to be false.
blue moon

Despite all this, scientists continue to slave away at the bench, hopeful that they might someday make a worthwhile contribution to the body of human knowledge. Moreover, the public gets its science information from such watered-down (but inspiring) ventures as I F*cking Love Science, but as a recent piece by John Skylar beautifully argued, our society appears to have a superficial love for pretty scientific pictures, as opposed to a true appreciation of the time, effort, and funding required to make this research happen. I felt uninspired, frustrated, and tormented by the conclusions these trains of thought led me to. Science is underfunded, often wrong, and even disbelieving of itself. And here I am, halfway through my PhD program, insanely determined to stay the course.

But all it took was two groundbreaking studies in fields that I am keenly interested in to fan the flames of my scientific passion and remind me why I do this. Bench science might resemble cooking, but as all scientists know, even the most methodical bench science only results in haute cuisine once in a blue moon. Nevertheless, we scientists live for these blue moons. Here are two recent, nearly coincident blue moons that reminded me why I f*cking love science.