Everything you know about [something] is wrong

At least, that’s what the internet says. And depending on which source you trust there may be 19, 21, 31, or 40 things you’re doing wrong. Some, every morning; some, everyday; and some, all your life!

Bartolomeu_Velho_1568
Figure of the heavenly bodies (Bartolomeu Velho) – illustration of the geocentric conception of the Universe. Image via Wikipedia

Not knowing something, and especially not understanding how some things work (many things, actually), is what drove me into science.

During university, I made a slight detour through engineering for a couple of years, but the numbers and formulas never really spoke to me; just static things with no life that I couldn’t translate into the real world.

So eventually, science called out for me and I changed to Biochemistry. Cells, DNA, the whole complexity of proteins working inside the cells—from day one I felt that was it, and I really wanted to know more about it; explore the unknown at the microscopic level.

 

It’s OK to be worng wrong

Science is everywhere we look at, and it has been doing truly amazing things for us: it put a man on the moon (actually 12 of them, so far), and it’s allowed us to explore things so far out in space that it would take us 13 billion years to get there, if we could travel at the speed of light [1]; it has been curing diseases, so much so that life expectancy increased 30-40 years in the last century [2]; and in spite of that it still forces us to be humble–when for instance in the 16th century it told us “Hey humans, you’re not the centre of the universe. The Sun is!” [3] (and later came back to say “Sorry Sun, you’re not it either. There’s no centre after all!”)–constantly telling us we are wrong.

If you’re a scientist you might agree that most days in science we are just wrong. But every time we’re proven wrong we learn something, and when we get it right it’s (almost) always amazing. That’s why science never gets boring. And there’s always something new to talk about. So, every now and then, I’ll be here writing about science–with its “wrongs” and “rights”–and science-related stuff.

I’ll try to make this a learning experience, for you and for me. And in that sense, I’ll write not so much about what I know but mostly about what I don’t. And I might be wrong, but there’s a chance that this will be fun. For one of us at least. I hope.

Cells and me
Cells and me. From left to right: a budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) cell, a fly’s (Drosophila melanogaster) neuroblast cell, the nucleus of a human (Homo sapiens) fibroblast cell, and me during the “final exam” of the PhD.
Image credits: Petra Stockinger and Nuno Amaral

So anyway, today I just passed by to say Hi! And here I am.

I’ve been doing research for about 8 years now, and I’m all about cells. For most of my scientists’ life I’ve been looking at cells dividing. During the PhD, I had fun making hundreds of movies of yeast cells going through mitosis–exactly the kind of yeast you might have come across in the kitchen (and not because it’s dirty) while baking. And more recently I turned to studying cancer biology. Still making movies, but with bigger cells now.

And naturally, I have been wrong, many times.

See you next time?

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