Scientific Anthology: Failure as a Stepping Stone

Introduction

Failure is often seen as a negative part of scientific discovery. Failure is inherently bad. But failure is not completely bad. When it is not a completely indomitable failure, it provides an opportunity for growth, and quite often is a stepping stone towards success, or brings you one step closer from achieving your goal.

This anthology is a collection of 15 carefully curated pieces which reflect the importance and the nuances around failure and its role in the scientific world. As you will find, failure is not only an irremovable component of science and progress, but a driving force into scientific discovery and advancement.
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Scientific Anthology: Failure as a Stepping Stone

“What Good Is That?”

“But the folks at home were stymied. ‘What are you doing?’ his father would ask. ‘Restriction endonuclease modification,’ he would glibly answer, using the technical term for his research area. He would then pause for his father’s inevitable retort. ‘Well, what good is it? What are you going to do with that?'”
-Hughes, 6

I found this particular section of the origin story of Boyer to be hilarious and relatable. It is first hilarious because clearly it is important scientific research that Boyer is performing, but his father simply wants to know how he plans on supporting himself. With older generations I think it is very common to be more concerned with the immediate job opportunities one can get so that one can support oneself. Younger generations, though, think on a much more global scale, where they wonder what they can do in the world or what difference they can make, hence Boyer’s response to his father: “I don’t know–cure the common cold” (Hughes, 6)

The argumentĀ of which is more important (accomplishing short-term and long-term goals) continues even after Boyer and his father had this discussion; many parents today have that same argument with their college age children. What is extraordinary about this is that while Boyer was studying his restriction endonuclease modification and ultimately striving for a long-term goal, he was able to create the business, the short-term goal of having a job and an income to support himself.

“What Good Is That?”