Monthly Archives: June 2011

“The most critical choice for a scientist is what problems to work on.”


According to Leslie Valiant

The most critical choice for a scientist is what problems to work on. The successful ones find problems of significance on which progress is possible using their particular skills.

According to Michael Kearns

One strongly feels that his taste in problems is inherently personal. He picks very big and fundamental questions and pursues them quietly and rigorously until he has something important to say, and only then will you find him writing a usually landmark paper. In this sense he is immune to fashion, more so than any researcher I have ever encountered.

A gram of delight, a ton of graveyard earth


According to Andrei Platonov

A man with a ten-year-old son left the boy with the boy’s mother – and married a young beauty. The boy began to long for his father and patiently, clumsily hanged himself. A gram of delight on one end of the lever is balanced by a ton of graveyard earth on the other. The father took the rope from the boy’s neck and soon followed him into the grave. What he wanted was to get drunk on the innocent beauty; he wanted to bear love not as a duty, not as an obligation with a single wife, but as pleasure.

A vulture that flies 7 miles high


According to this from the Wilson Bulletin

On 29 November 1973, a Rüppell’s Griffon (Gyps rueppellii) collided with a commercial aircraft at 37,000 ft over Abijan, Ivory Coast, western Africa. The altitude is that recorded by the pilot shortly after the impact, which damaged one of the aircraft’s engines and caused it to be shut down. The plane landed safely at Abijan without further incident. The remains of the vulture consisted of five complete and 15 partial feathers from the wings (secondaries, lesser, and underwing coverts), tail, neck, and breast. Sufficient details are apparent in these feathers to allow their certain identification as G. rueppellii, using comparative material in the U.S. National Museum of Natural History.

Aside: See also.